Journey to the West: Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Dissatisfied at Being Appointed Protector of the Horses

Not Content with the Title of Equal of Heaven

The Great White Planet left the depths of the cave with the Handsome Monkey King, and they ascended together on their clouds. As Sun Wukong's somersault cloud was exceptionally fast he reached the Southern Gate of Heaven first, leaving the Great White planet far behind. Just as he was putting away his cloud to go in, his way was barred by the Heavenly Guardian Virudhaka and his powerful heavenly soldiers Liu, Gou, Bi, Deng, Xin, Zhang, and Tao, who blocked the gate of Heaven with their spears and swords and refused to let him in.

"This old Great White planet is a trickster," said Sun Wukong. "He invited me here, so he has no business to have me kept out with spears and swords." Just as he was kicking up a row the Planet suddenly arrived.

Sun Wukong flung his accusation at him: "Why did you play this trick on me, you old fogy? You told me you came with an Edict of Amnesty from the Jade Emperor to invite me here, so why did you arrange for these people not to let me in through the gate of Heaven?" The Great White Planet laughed.

"Don't be angry, Your Majesty. You've never been here before, your name is not on the books here, and the heavenly soldiers have never met you. Of course they could not let you in just for the asking. But when you've seen His Celestial Majesty and been given office among the Immortals, you will be able to come and go as you wish, and nobody will try to stop you."

"Be that as it may," said Sun Wukong, "I'm not going in." The Great White Planet would not let him go and asked him to go in with him in spite of it all.

As they approached the gate, the Planet shouted, "Heavenly officers of the gates of Heaven, sergeants and soldiers, let us in. This is an Immortal from the lower world, and I am carrying an edict from the Jade Emperor summoning him here." Only then did the Heavenly King Zengzhang and his soldiers withdraw their arms and stand back. Now the Monkey King began to trust the Great White Planet. He walked slowly in with him and looked at the view. Truly it was his

First ascent to the upper world,

Sudden entry into paradise.

Ten thousand beams of golden light shone with a reddish glow;

A thousand strands of propitious vapour puffed out purple mist.

See the Southern Gate of Heaven,

Deep green,


Shimmering bright,

Studded with jewels.

On either side stood scores of heavenly marshals,

Tall as the roofbeams, next to the pillars,

Holding metal-tipped bows and banners.

All around stood gods in golden armour,

Brandishing their clubs and halberds,

Wielding their cutlasses and swords.

The outside was remarkable enough,

But the inside astonished him.

Here were several mighty pillars,

Round which coiled tawny-bearded dragons, their gold scales gleaming in the sun.

There were long bridges,

Where strutted phoenixes, brilliant of plumage and with bright red crests.

A rosy glow shone with heavenly light;

Thick green mists obscured the Pole Star.

In this heaven there are thirty-three heavenly palaces:

The Palace of Clouds Dispersed, the Vaisravana Palace, the palace of

Five Lores, the Sun Palace, the Palace of Flowery Bliss,

Every palace had golden animals on its roof.

Then there were seventy-two precious halls:

The Hall of Morning Audience, the Hall of Rising into Space, the Precious Light Hall, the Hall of the Heavenly Kings, the Hall of the Master of Miracles,

Jade unicorns on every column.

On the Terrace of the Star of Longevity

Grew flowers that never wither.

Beside the Stove for Decocting Elixir,

Were herbs that stay green for ever.

In front of the Facing the Sage pavilion

Crimson gauze clothes Glittered like stars;

Lotus hats

Shone with gold and jade.

Jade hairpins and pearl-sewn shoes,

Golden seals on purple cords.

As the golden bell tolled,

The three classes of divinities approached the steps and submitted memorials.

As the heavenly drum was beaten,

Ten thousand sage kings attended the Jade Emperor.

Then they entered the Hall of Miraculous Mist,

Where jade doors were studded with gold,

And phoenixes danced before the crimson gates.

Winding arcades,

Everywhere carved in openwork;

Layer on Layer of eaves,

With dragons and phoenixes soaring.

On top was a majestically purple,


Perfectly round,

And dazzling

Golden gourd-shaped finial;

Below, fans hung from the hands of heavenly consorts,

While jade maidens proffered magic clothes.


The heavenly generals guarding the court;


The immortal officials protecting the throne.

In the middle were set Crystal dishes

Filled to overflowing with Great Monad Pills;

Agate jars

In which stood twisted coral trees.

All the wonderful things in Heaven were there,

None of which are seen on Earth:

Golden gates, silver chariots, and a purple palace;

Precious plants, jade flowers, and jasper petals.

The jade hares of the princes at court ran past the alter;

The golden rooks of the sages present flew down low.

The Monkey King was fated to come to Heaven,

Rather than be sullied by the mortal world.

The Great White Planet led the Handsome Monkey King to the outside of the Hall of Miraculous Mist. He went straight in to the imperial presence without waiting to be summoned, and did obeisance to the throne.

Sun Wukong stood bolt upright beside him, not bothering with any court etiquette, but just concentrating on listening to the Great White Planet make his report to the Jade Emperor: "In obedience to the Divine Edict, your subject has brought the demon Immortal here."

The Jade Emperor lowered his curtain and asked, "And which of you is the demon Immortal?"

"Me," replied Sun Wukong, only now making a slight bow.

The faces of the officials went white with horror as they exclaimed, "What a savage monkey! He has the impudence to answer 'Me,' and without even prostrating himself first! He must die!"

In reply to this the Jade Emperor announced, "Sun Wukong is a demon Immortal of the lower world who has only just obtained human form, so he is not acquainted with court procedure. We shall forgive him this time."

"We thank you for your mercy," said the immortal ministers. Only then did Sun Wukong express his respect by bowing low and chanting "na-a-aw" at the top of his voice. The Jade Emperor ordered his immortal civil and military officials to find a vacancy in some department for Sun Wukong.

The Star Lord Wuqu stepped forward form the side and reported, "There are no vacancies in any of the palaces, halls, and departments of Heaven except for a superintendent in the Imperial Stables."

"Then make him Protector of the Horses," ordered the Jade Emperor. All the ministers thanked him for his mercy, apart from Sun Wukong, who just expressed his respect with a loud "na-a-aw." The Jade Emperor then told the Wood Planet to take him to the Imperial Stables.

The Wood Planet accompanied the delighted Monkey King to his post and then went back to the palace. The Monkey King then called together the deputy and the assistant superintendent, the book-keeper, the grooms, and all the other officials, high and low, to find out about the duties of his department. He found that he had to look after a thousand heavenly horses:

Chestnuts and stallions,

Courser and chargers:

Dragon and Purple Swallow,

Pegasus and Sushun,

Jueti and Silver,

Yaoniao and Flying Yellow,

Taotu and Feathers,

Red Hare and Faster Than Light,

Dazzler and Horizon,

Mist-soarer and Victory;

Wind-chaser and Matchless,

Flying Wing and Galloping Mist,

Lazy Whirlwind and Red Lightning,

Bronze Cup and Drifting Cloud,

Skewbald and Tiger-Stripe,

Dustfree and Purple Scales,

The Four Ferghana Steeds,

The Eight Chargers and Nine Gallopers,

Coursers that can cover three hundred miles—

All these fine horses were

Neighing in the wind, chasing the lightning, mighty in spirit;

Pawing the mist, climbing the clouds, great in their strength.

The Monkey King looked through the register and counted the horses. In the stables the book-keeper was responsible for ordering the fodder, the head groom was in charge of currying the horses, chopping up and cooking the fodder, and giving them water; the deputy superintendent and his assistant helped to oversee the work. The Protector of the Horses looked after his charges, sleeping neither by day nor by night. It is true that he fooled around by day, but at night he looked after the animals with great diligence, waking them up and making them eat whenever they fell asleep, and leading those still on their feet to the trough. At the sight of him the heavenly horses would prick up their ears and paw the ground, and they became fat and plump. Thus more than half a month slipped by.

On one morning that was a holiday all the officials of the stables held a feast both to welcome and congratulate the Protector of the Horses.

In the middle of the party the Monkey King suddenly put down his cup and asked, "What sort of office is this 'Protector of the Horses?'"

"What the name suggests, that's all."

"Which official grading does it carry?"


"What does 'unclassified' mean?"

"Bottom grade," the others replied, going on to explain, "It is a very low and unimportant office, and all you can do in it is look after the horses. Even someone who works as conscientiously as Your Honour and gets the horses so fat will get no more reward than someone saying 'good'; and if anything goes at all wrong you will be held responsible, and if the losses are serious you will be fined and punished."

The Monkey King flared up on hearing this, gnashed his teeth, and said in a great rage, "How dare they treat me with such contempt? On the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit I am a king and a patriarch. How dare he trick me into coming here to feed his horses for him? It's a low job for youngsters, not for me. I won't do it, I won't. I'm going back." He pushed the table over with a crash, took his treasure out of his ear, and shook it. It became as thick as a rice bowl, and he brandished it as he charged out of the Imperial Stables to the Southern Gate of Heaven. As the celestial guards knew that his name was on the register of immortal officials they did not dare to block his path, but let him out through the gate.

He descended by cloud and was back on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit in an instant. Seeing the four Stalwart Generals and all the kings of the monsters drilling their troops there he shouted in a shrill voice, "Children, I'm back." The monkeys all bowed to him, took him into the heart of the cave, and asked him to sit on his throne, while they prepared a banquet to welcome him back.

"Congratulations, Your Majesty," they all said. "After over a dozen years up there you must be coming back in glory and triumph."

"What do you mean, over a dozen years?" asked the Monkey King. "I've only been away for a fortnight or so."

"Your Majesty can't have noticed the time passing in heaven. A day in heaven lasts as long as a year on earth. May we ask what office you held?"

"It hurts me to tell you," replied the Monkey King with a wave of his hand. "I feel thoroughly humiliated. That Jade Emperor doesn't know how to use a good man. A man like me—'Protector of the Horses'. That meant I had to feed his animals for him and wasn't even given an official grading. I didn't know this at first, so I fooled around in the Imperial Stables until today, when I found out from my colleagues how low the job was. I was so angry that I pushed the table over and quit the job. That's why I've come back."

"Quite right too," the other monkeys said. "Your Majesty can be king in our cave paradise and enjoy as much honour and pleasure as you like, so why go and be his groom?" Then they gave orders for wine to be brought at once to cheer their king up.

As they were drinking someone came in to report, "Your Majesty, there are two Single-horned Devil Kings outside who want to see you."

"Ask them in," said the Monkey King, and the two formally-dressed devil kings hurried into the cave and prostrated themselves.

"Why have you come to see me?" asked the Handsome Monkey King; and they replied, "We have long heard that Your Majesty is looking for men of talent, but we were unable to see you before. Now that Your Majesty has been given heavenly office and come back in triumph, we would like to offer you this yellow robe as a token of our congratulations. We also hope that you will not reject us although we are low and worthless, but will accept our humble services." An exultant Monkey King put on the yellow robe and his happy subjects bowed to him in order of precedence. The two devil kings were appointed Commanders of the Van, and when they had thanked the Monkey King for this they asked, "What office did Your Majesty hold while you were all that time in Heaven?"

"The Jade Emperor has no respect for talent," replied the Monkey King. "He made me something called 'Protector of the Horses.'"

"Your Majesty has such miraculous powers: you should never have been feeding his horses for him. You should have been made a 'Great Sage Equaling Heaven,' shouldn't you?" The Monkey King was beside himself with delight at this suggestion, and he kept saying how splendid it was.

"Get me a banner made at once with the words 'Great Sage Equaling Heaven' in big letters on it, and put up a pole to hang it from," he ordered his four Stalwart Generals. "From now on I am to be called 'Great Sage Equaling Heaven,' not 'Your Majesty' or 'King'. Pass this order on to all the other kings of the monsters." We will leave him at this point.

When the Jade Emperor held his morning court the next day the Heavenly Teacher Zhang led the deputy and assistant superintendents of the Imperial Stables to the vermilion steps, bowed low, and reported, "Your Majesty, Sun Wukong, the new Protector of the Horses, left Heaven yesterday because he thought his office was too humble."

Just as he was speaking the Heavenly Guardian Virudhaka came from the Southern Gate of Heaven with his heavenly soldiers and reported, "The Protector of the Horses has gone out through the gate. We do not know why."

On hearing this the Jade Emperor commanded, "Let the two divine officials return to their posts; we shall send heavenly soldiers to capture this devil."

The pagoda-bearing Heavenly King Li Jing and Prince Nezha stepped forward from the ranks of those attending the audience, and they memorialized, "Your Imperial Majesty, we beg you to command us, your incompetent servants, to subdue this fiend." The Emperor was delighted with this suggestion, and he appointed the Pagoda-bearing Heavenly King as Demon quelling High Marshal, and Prince Nezha as Great God of the Seas. He told them to take their forces down to the lower world at once.

Heavenly King Li and Nezha kowtowed, took their leave, went straight back to their own palace, and assembled their troops, commanders and officers. They put the Mighty Miracle God in charge of the vanguard, and General Fishbelly in command of the rear, while General Yaksa was made adjutant. Within an instant they were outside the Southern Gate of Heaven, and they went straight to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. They chose a piece of level and open ground on which to construct a fortified camp, and ordered the Mighty Miracle God to issue the challenge to battle. On receiving this order the Mighty Miracle God tied on his armour firmly and went to the Water Curtain Cave, holding his flower-spreading battle-axe. When he got there he saw huge numbers of devils—wolves, tigers and leopards—wielding spears, brandishing swords, leaping around, fighting each other, and making a great noise outside the little entrance to the cave.

"Accursed beasts," shouted the Mighty Miracle God, "tell the Protector of the Horses at once that I am a heavenly general come on the orders of the Jade Emperor to subdue him. If you make him come out and surrender immediately it will save the lot of you from being wiped out."

The devils went rushing into the cave and reported, "Disaster, disaster."

"What disaster?" the Monkey King asked.

"There's a heavenly general outside who says he's come on the orders of the Jade Emperor to subdue you. If you go out and surrender immediately, he says he'll spare our lives."

"Fetch me my armour," said the Monkey King. He then donned his golden helmet, tied on his golden armour, put on his cloud-walking shoes, and took his As-You-Will gold-banded cudgel in his hand. He led his troops out of the cave and drew them up in battle array. The Mighty Miracle God gazed wide-eyed at the excellent Monkey King:

On his body was gleaming golden armour,

On his head a dazzling golden helmet,

In his hand a gold-banded club,

On his feet a pair of cloud-walking shoes to match.

His devil eyes shone like stars,

His ears were long and hard.

His sturdy frame could be transformed at will,

His voice rang clearly as a bell.

The sharp-mouthed Horse Protector with protruding teeth

Wanted to become a Sage Equaling Heaven.

The Mighty Miracle God shouted in a harsh voice, "Insolent ape! Don't you recognize me?"

The Great Sage Sun Wukong replied at once, "I've never met you before. How should I know which wretched little deity you are? Tell me your name at once."

"I'll get you, you conceited baboon. So you don't know who I am? I am the Heavenly General Mighty Miracle, the commander of the vanguard for Heavenly King Li, the Pagoda-bearer. I have come here on the orders of the Jade Emperor to accept your surrender. Take off your armour at once and submit to the mercy of Heaven, or I'll wipe out every animal on the mountain. And if you so much as hint at a refusal, I'll smash you to powder."

"Stop talking so big, you lousy god," retorted the furious Monkey King, "and give that long tongue of yours a rest. I'd just love to kill you with this cudgel of mine, but if I did there'd be no one to deliver my message for me, so I'll spare your life. Hurry back to Heaven and tell that Jade Emperor that he doesn't know how to use a good man. Why did he make me waste my infinite powers on feeding his horses for him? Take a look at what's written on my standard. If he's willing to give me this title officially, I'll call off my troops and let Heaven and Earth continue in peace; but if he refuses I'm coming up to the Hall of Miraculous Mist to knock him off his dragon throne." When the Mighty Miracle God heard this he looked hard and saw that a tall pole had been planted outside the entrance to the cave, on which hung a banner reading GREAT SAGE EQUALING HEAVEN.

"Heh, heh, heh," he mocked, "you ignorant ape. What shameless effrontery, to want to be a 'Great Sage Equaling Heaven!' Take that!" He swung with his battle-axe at the Monkey King who, quite unflustered, parried with his gold banded cudgel. It was a fine battle:

The cudgel was called As-You-Will,

The axe was named Flower Spreader.

As soon as the two met,

You could not tell which was better:

Axe and club

Locked together.

One was concealing his magic powers,

One was a big-mouthed boaster.

They used their magic

To breathe out cloud and mist;

When they opened their hands

They scattered sand and dust.

The heavenly general was a master of magic;

Endless were the changes the Monkey King could make.

When the cudgel was raised it was like a dragon playing in the water;

As the axe came down it was a phoenix among the flowers.

Although the fame of Miracle was known throughout the world,

His skill was no match for his enemy.

If the Great Sage lightly twirled his club,

A mere touch would paralyze.

The Mighty Miracle God was no match for his opponent. He hastened to block the Monkey King's first blow with his axe, which broke in two with a crunch. He fled for his life as fast as he could, and the Monkey King said mockingly, "You bag of pus, I'll spare you this time. Hurry back with my message, and look sharp about it."

The Mighty Miracle God returned to his camp, went straight to the Pagoda-bearing Heavenly King Li Jing, knelt before him, and said with an awkward laugh, "The Protector of the Horses has really tremendous magic powers. I was no match for him. He beat me, and now I have come to take my punishment."

"This fool has ruined our morale," exploded the Heavenly King Li in a fury. "Take him away, and off with his head."

Prince Nezha, who was standing to one side, stepped forward, bowed, and said, "Do not be angry, Your Majesty. Forgive the Mighty Miracle God, and let me go and do battle; then we'll see who's boss." The heavenly king accepted his advice, and told Mighty Miracle God to go back and look after the camp while he awaited his punishment.

When he had put on his armour and helmet, Prince Nezha charged straight out of the camp to the Water Curtain Cave. Sun Wukong, who was just going to pull back his troops, saw the ferocity of his onslaught. What a fine prince he was:

His hair in tufts barely covers his scalp,

His cloak not over his shoulders.

How striking his intelligence,

How elegant his air.

Indeed he is the scion of a unicorn in Heaven;

In truth he is a phoenix Immortal from the clouds.

The seed of dragons is different from the common herd;

This fine youth is not at all like mortals.

With him he carries six divine weapons;

Endless his transformations as he soars through the air.

Now he has received an edict from the Jade Emperor's mouth,

Making him Commander of the Three Temples of the Masses.

Sun Wukong went up to him and asked, "Whose little boy are you then? What do you mean, charging up to my door?"

"Stinking monkey fiend," shouted Prince Nezha, "don't you know who I am? I am Nezha, the third son of the pagoda-bearing Heavenly King, and I have been commanded by the Jade Emperor to come here and arrest you."

"You do talk big, don't you, little prince," said Sun Wukong, laughing at him. "But as you've still got all your milk teeth and are still wet behind the ears I'll spare your life and I won't hit you. Do you see what it says on my standard? Go and tell the Jade Emperor that if he gives me that title I'll call off my armies and submit to him once more. But if he doesn't do what I want him to, I'll surely attack the Hall of Miraculous Mist." Nezha looked up and saw the words "Great Sage Equaling Heaven."

"You wicked monkey! How dare you give yourself a title like that, whatever your magic powers may be! Don't worry, all you're getting is my sword."

"Give me a few swipes, then," replied Sun Wukong, "I won't move."

"Change," yelled Nezha in a passion, and at once he had three heads and six arms, which made him look most ferocious. In his hands he held six weapons, a demon-beheading sword, a demon-hacking cutlass, a demon-binding rope, a demon-quelling pestle, an embroidered ball, and a fire-wheel—and wielding all these he rushed straight at Sun Wukong.

At the sight of him Sun Wukong exclaimed with astonishment, "Well, my boy, you certainly know a trick or two. But just behave yourself and watch what I can do." Our dear Great Sage shouted "Change," and he too had three heads and six arms. He shook his gold-banded cudgel, and it turned into three cudgels, which he gripped with his six hands to ward off Nezha's blows. It was a great fight, and it made the earth shake and the mountains tremble:

Six-armed Prince Nezha

Heaven-born Monkey King:

Well-matched opponents,

Both in the same class.

One sent down to the lower world on a mission,

The other priding himself as a fighting bull.

Fast moves the point of the demon-beheading sword,

And evil spirits fear the demon-hacking cutlass,

The demon-binding rope flies like a dragon,

While the demon-quelling pestle has the head of a wolf,

The fire-wheel flashes with lightning,

And the embroidered ball shoots everywhere.

The Great Sage's three As-You-Will cudgels

Block and parry with consummate skill.

Though many hard-fought rounds prove inconclusive,

The prince refuses to call the battle off;

Making his six weapons multiply in number,

He throws them in their millions at the Monkey King's head,

But the Monkey King, fearless, roars with laughter

As his iron clubs whirl and think for themselves.

One becomes a thousand; one thousand, ten;

Their wild dance fills the sky as if with dragons.

All the demon kings shut their gates in terror;

Every goblin on the mountain finds some place to hide.

Cloud-black, the anger of the heavenly troops;

Whistling like the wind, the gold-banded cudgels.

On the one side,

The blood-curdling war-cries of the heavenly host.

On the other,

The spine-chilling banners of the monkey fiends.

Both parties are equal in fighting courage;

Neither could be said to be the winner.

Prince Nezha and Sun Wukong both used their divine powers to the full as they fought thirty rounds. When the six weapons of the prince turned into thousands and tens of thousands, so did Sun Wukong's gold-banded cudgel. The air was filled as if with drops of rain or shooting stars, and there was no way of telling who was winning. As Sun Wukong was deft of hand and quick of eye, he plucked one of the hairs from his body in the midst of the fray and shouted "Change!" It changed into his own double to mislead Nezha while his real self leapt round till he was behind Nezha and struck at his left shoulder. Nezha was in the middle of performing a spell when he heard the whistle of the cudgel through the air and twisted away as fast as he could. But he was unable to avoid the blow and had to flee wounded. He brought his magic to an end, put his six weapons away, reverted to his true appearance, and abandoned the field of battle in defeat.

This had all been observed by Heavenly King Li, who was on the point of sending reinforcements when his son appeared before him and reported in fear and trembling, "Father, the Protector of the Horses is very powerful. My magic was outclassed and he has wounded me in the shoulder."

The color drained from the face of the horror-struck Heavenly King as he said, "If the creature has magic powers like that, how are we going to defeat him?"

"Outside the gates of the cave," the prince went on to report, "there is a banner on a pole that reads 'Great Sage Equaling Heaven'. He bragged that if the Jade Emperor gave him this title he would call everything off; otherwise he said he would attack the Hall of Miraculous Mist."

"In that case," said the Heavenly King, "we'll disengage now, go back to Heaven, and request that more heavenly troops be sent to capture this wretch. There is plenty of time." The prince, in pain and unable to go on fighting, went back to Heaven with the Heavenly King and put in this request, but of that no more for the moment.

Watch as the Monkey King returns to the mountain in triumph to receive the congratulations of the seventy-two kings of the monsters and his six sworn brothers. There was great drinking and singing in the cave paradise. Sun Wukong said to his six sworn brothers, "As I've called myself Great Sage Equaling Heaven, you can all call yourselves great sages too."

"Honorable brother, you're right," roared the Bull Demon King. "I shall call myself the Great Sage Matching Heaven."

"I'll be the Great Sage Overturning the Sea," said the Salamander Demon King.

"I'll be the Great Sage Throwing Heaven into Confusion," said the Roc Demon King.

"I'll be the Great Sage Who Moves Mountains," said the Camel Demon King.

"I'll be the Great Sage Who Travels with the Wind," said the Macaque King.

"And I'll be the Great Sage Who Drives Away Gods," said the Lion King. The seven great sages then did just as they pleased and gave themselves the titles they chose, and after enjoying themselves all day they went home.

Heavenly King Li and Prince Nezha led their forces straight to the Palace of Miraculous Mist and made this request: "We, your subjects, took our forces down to the lower world, under your Divine Edict, to subdue the immortal fiend Sun Wukong. But to our surprise we found that his magical powers were too far-reaching for us to be able to defeat him. We therefore hope that Your Imperial Majesty will send more troops to exterminate him."

"How could a mere monkey goblin have such great powers that you actually need more troops?" asked the Jade Emperor.

Prince Nezha then came forward and memorialized, "We beg Your Majesty to spare us the deaths we deserve. That monkey fiend has an iron cudgel that he used to defeat the Mighty Miracle God and wounded me on the shoulder. He has set a banner up outside the entrance to his cave that reads 'Great Sage Equaling Heaven,' and he says that if you give him this office he will stop fighting and submit; otherwise he will attack the Hall of Miraculous Mist."

When the Jade Emperor heard this he asked in horror, "How dare that monkey fiend talk so wildly? Send all the generals to execute him at once."

As he spoke the Great White Planet stepped forward from the ranks of officials. "That monkey fiend knows how to talk," he suggested, "but he has no idea about real power. If more soldiers were sent to fight him, they might not be able to overcome him at once and their energies would be wasted. But if Your Imperial Majesty were to show your great mercy, you could send down a pacificatory amnesty and let him be a Great Sage Equaling Heaven. It would only be an empty title that he was given, just an honorary appointment."

"What do you mean by an honorary appointment?" asked the Jade Emperor.

"He would be called a Great Sage Equaling Heaven, but he would not be given any responsibility or paid any salary. He would be kept between Heaven and Earth, where his evil nature would be under control and he would be kept from wickedness. Thus Heaven and Earth can be at peace, while sea and sky enjoy tranquillity." The Jade Emperor approved this suggestion and ordered that a new edict should be issued for the Great White Planet to deliver.

The Great White Planet left once more through the Southern Gate of Heaven and went straight to have a look at the Water Curtain Cave on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. It was quite different from before. There was an awe-inspiring and spine-chilling atmosphere, and every kind of fiend was present. They were roaring and leaping around with their swords, spears, cutlasses and staves. As soon as they saw the Great White Planet they all went for him.

"Will your commander please come forward," said the Planet. "I would trouble you to inform your Great Sage that I am a heavenly envoy sent by the Jade Emperor, and I am carrying a divine edict with an invitation for him."

The fiends rushed in to report, "There's an old man outside who says he's come from Heaven with an edict of invitation for you."

When Sun Wukong heard this he said, "I'm glad he's come. I expect he's that Great White Planet who came before. Although I wasn't given a decent job last time I went to Heaven, I did get up there and learn my way around. If it's him again, his intentions must be good." He told his commanders to put on a big display of banners and drums and to turn out a guard of honour to welcome him.

Then the Great Sage, wearing his helmet, his yellow robe over his armour, and his cloud-walking shoes, hurried out of the cave at the head of his monkey host, bowed in greeting, and shouted in a loud voice, "Please come in, venerable Planet. Forgive me for not being here to welcome you."

The Planet walked straight into the cave, stood facing the South and said, "Great Sage, when you left the Imperial Stables because you found the post too humble, the officials of that department naturally reported the matter to the Jade Emperor. The Jade Emperor decreed that all officials have to work their way up from the bottom, and asked why you objected to its being humble. After this Heavenly King Li took Nezha down to the lower world to do battle with you. Your divine powers, Great Sage, were more than they expected, and they suffered defeat. On their return to Heaven they reported that you had set up a banner and wanted to be a 'Great Sage Equaling Heaven'. All the generals wanted to punish you; but I, Great Sage, ran the risk of punishment by suggesting that the armies should not be called out, and that Your Majesty should be given a post instead. The Jade Emperor approved my memorial, and that is why I have come here to invite you."

"I am most grateful for this honour after the trouble I caused you earlier," replied Sun Wukong, "but I am not sure whether there is such a title as 'Great Sage Equaling Heaven' in the upper world."

"After obtaining imperial approval for this title," said the Planet, "I came down bearing a decree. If anything goes wrong, I'll bear the responsibility."

A highly delighted Sun Wukong tried his hardest to persuade the Planet to stay to a banquet, but without success, so he went with him by propitious cloud to the Southern Gate of Heaven. The heavenly generals and soldiers all greeted them with respectfully folded arms, and they went straight to the Hall of Miraculous Mist. The Great White Planet did obeisance and said, "In obedience to the imperial edict your subject has summoned Sun Wukong, the Protector of the Horses, and he is present."

"Let Sun Wukong come forward," said the Jade Emperor. "We do now proclaim you Great Sage Equaling Heaven. Your rank is now very high. Let there be no more mischief from you." The monkey simply chanted "na-a-aw" to express his thanks to the Emperor. The Jade Emperor then ordered the two officials in charge of public works, Zhang and Lu, to build a residence for the Great Sage Equaling Heaven to the left of the Peach Orchard. In the residence there were to be two offices: a Tranquillity Office and a Calm Divinity Office. Both these offices were to have immortal clerks and senior and junior assistants. He then told the Star Lords of the Constellation Five to escort Sun Wukong to his post, and in addition gave him two bottles of imperial wine and ten golden flowers, and admonished him to settle down and keep out of mischief. The Monkey King accepted the order and went that same day with the Star Lords of the Constellation Five to his residence, where he opened the bottles of wine and drained them dry with the help of all present. He then saw the star officials off and returned to his own palace. From then on he lived in happiness and content, and enjoyed untrammelled pleasure in the Palace. Truly,

His immortal name was for ever inscribed in the register of eternal life,

To be transmitted for ten thousand ages, free of the wheel of rebirth.

If you don't know what happened next, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

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