A long time ago in a land far, far away, (said the prisoner to himself), on an islet off the coast near the town of Kuizhou was a little stone. And the rain watered it and the sun shone upon it and the wind blew upon it, and one day it cracked open to reveal a little child. And beams shot from the child’s eyes upon his birth and even as far away as Lanling the great sect leaders of the cultivation world took note of the strange occurrence.
The child swam to the town of Kuizhou and since he came from the ocean, and since the predominant surname in Kuizhou was “Xue,” they called him Xue Yang. Xue Yang played happily in streets of the town with the other children. One day while they were playing, they came upon an abandoned building and the children were afraid.
“What could be inside that building?” They asked
“Do you think there could be ghosts?”
“Whoever dares enter the building first, he shall be our leader and we shall call him Zongzhu,” they decided.
“I shall go!” cried Xue Yang, and he went up to the building and tried the door. It opened and he discovered that the inside of the building was warm and dry, but obviously abandoned. He explored and found it safe, so he went back outside to the other children and told them to come inside.
“We can make this our new home,” he told them. And they declared him their sect leader, Xue-Zongzhu, and they lived very happily.
One day Xue-Zongzhu had an encounter with a cultivator and lost his little finger. He was outraged. How could there be such evil in the world? And he determined that he would go out in the world to find the secret to conquering death, illness and injury.
He traveled long and far and came to the magical realm of the Yiling Laozu, a fearsome master who could raise the dead.
“Modao Zushi,” cried Xue Yang, “please teach me!”
“You’re a little street punk,” said the Yiling Laozu. “My teachings would be wasted on you.”
But Xue Yang was persistent. Every day he waited at the entrance to the Burial Mounds and begged for the Yiling Laozu to teach him the way to conquer death.
After months, the Yiling Laozu broke down and agreed to teach him. He soon found that Xue Yang had no skill for the flute or meditation and chastised him. “How can you truly conquer the dead if you cannot control them with music?” He asked.
“Master, please teach me something else!” cried Xue Yang.
The Yiling Laozu thought about it and said, “For a little street punk like you, perhaps inventions will come more easily.” And he taught him how to make compasses of evil and spirit attraction flags and all sorts of useful devices.
Then one day the Burial Mounds closed themselves to Xue Yang and his master shouted at him, “Go away! And never tell anyone it was I who taught you! And don’t show off, you will only bring trouble upon yourself.”
So Xue Yang went back to Kuizhou, having discovered that very little time had passed while he had been gone, and no one believed him that he had been to Yiling and back.
But Xue Yang was a great and beautiful cultivator now, so he took a new name, Xue Chengmei, to celebrate his success.
He went to visit the Chang cultivation clan. They tried to turn him away, but he forced his way in. “Do you not understand that I am the leader of the Xue clan? I am a sect leader like you. I know you would never turn me away like this.”
Chang-zongzhu wasn’t sure what to do. This street punk had forced his way in, and the guards couldn’t stop him. He was afraid, so he decided to humor Xue Chengmei. “Of course, of course we offer you gifts, congratulations Xue-zongzhu,” he said. He brought out swords for Xue Chengmei to try, and first-class spiritual weapons. None of them suited, Xue Chengmei. He was too strong for them and broke them all with his strength.
Finally, Xue Yang noticed a pillar in the Chang ancestral hall that looked very hefty. “That might suit,” he said.
“You can’t lift that, it’s not a weapon,” said Chang-zongzhu.
“If I can move it, can I have it?” asked Xue Yang.
“Ha! Of course,” replied Chang-zongzhu.
Xue Yang spoke to the pillar, and it reformed itself into a sword. It was a strong sword with a black aura, and he liked it very much.
Chang-zongzhu was shocked. “You can’t take that!” he cried. “It is the guardian spirit of the Chang Clan. It is our luck, without it here, disasters will befall our clan!”
“You promised,” responded Xue Yang, “I was able to lift it, so it’s mine now. I will call you Jiangzai,” he told it.
Chang-zongzhu was furious and he rushed off to the Jin clan in Lanling to complain.
“What should we do about this Xue Chengmei?” Sect Leader Jin asked his son Jin Guangyao after hearing Chang-zongzhu’s complaint.
“We should bring him here,” said Jin Guangyao. “He will be very flattered to be invited to be a disciple of the Jin clan, and we can keep him out of the way and keep an eye on him.”
“Let it be done,” said Jin-zongzhu.
So Jin Guangyao went to Kuizhou to invite Xue Chengmei to be a disciple in the Jin clan. The other street children were very excited for their Xue-zongzhu to receive such an invitation from a great sect and urged him to go.
Xue Chengmei went and was very flattered to be given the title of Protector of the Peonies. Every day he would sit in the gardens and enjoy himself. But one day he overheard a conversation that revealed to him that “Protector of the Peonies” was a job given to the lowest of the low at the Jin Sect, the disciples who were unable to form a golden core. Xue Yang was horribly insulted and summoned a number of fierce corpses to trample the peonies in the garden, and then went home to Kuizhou. He declared himself the Qijin Dasheng, or Great Sage Equal to the Jin.
“Let’s send some of our cultivators to just kill that punk,” said Jin-zongzhu.
“He did summon a large number of fierce corpses to trample the peonies,” said Jin Guangyao. “If you sent the wrong number of men and he summoned more fierce corpses than they could handle and beat them, it would be a huge loss of face for the Jin Sect. No, let us bring him back here and I’ll use him to help us decipher the work of the Yiling Laozu. He thinks being called “Qijin” means something, but the cultivation world as a whole would know that title as a joke bestowed upon a street punk.” Lianfang-zun would perhaps know a little something about joke titles bestowed on street punks.
So Jin Guangyao went to Kuizhou and brought Xue Chengmei back to Lanling. He was acknowledged as the Great Sage Equal to the Jin and put in charge of the Yiling Laozu’s papers.
Xue Chengmei worked very hard and was able to recreate the half of the Stygian Tiger Seal that had broken, though it was not as good as the original. Jin Guangyao was pleased. Then Xue Chengmei used the Stygian Tiger Seal to avenge himself for the loss of his pinky, and Jin Guangyao was very unhappy.
“You’ve lost control over him,” said Jin-zongzhu.
“I’m very sorry,” said Jin Guangyao, “I must have miscalculated.”
Madam Jin threw a jar of wine at his head. He managed to avoid the jar, but still got splashed with wine.
“We’ll find another way to deal with him,” said Jin Guangyao.
There was a great fight where all of the Jin Clan’s best warriors tried to beat Xue Chengmei, but they were all defeated. They called upon their allies in the Jiang clan, and the Jiang clan sent all of their best warriors, who were also defeated by the indomitable, impressive, amazing skills of Xue Chengmei.
“I know,” said Lan-zongzhu, “I will play music for him and surely that will put him to sleep, and then we can deal with him properly.”
So the Lan clan played music for Xue Chengmei, and put him into a trance for many days.
“We should be able to deal with him now,” said Lan-zongzhu.
But they did not realize that the music and the trance had strengthened Xue Chengmei’s golden core. So now, not only was he a great demonic cultivator, but a great normal cultivator as well.
“I’m very sorry, A-Yao,” said Lan-zongzhu, “I didn’t know it would have that effect.”
Thus the Jin were forced to call upon Buddha… I mean, (the prisoner corrected himself) they called upon Nie Mingjue to deal with their little punk.
And Nie Mingjue said, “I’ll make a bet with you. If you win the bet, I’ll let you go, but if you lose, you will come to Qinghe with me.”
And in Qinghe, (said the prisoner), you will be thrown in a deep, dark, dank, drafty, dreadful prison, where we will steal away your precious Jiangzai and your dear Tiger Seal, and feed you only and rice and water, and you will stay there for a thousand years….
“I will bet you that you cannot leave the palm of my hand,” said Buddha.
“Done!” cried Sun Wukong and somersaulted away as fast as he could go. Eventually he came to an area surrounded by clouds with five great pillars standing before him. “Truly this must be the end of the world,” thought Sun Wukong. “I’m sure no one else has ever been to the end of the world, I should write my name.” He wrote “Sun Wukong was here” on one of the pillars and relieved himself. Then he somersaulted back.
“I won the bet,” he told Nie Mingjue.
“Is that so?” said Nie Mingjue, “Because it doesn’t look like you did to me.”
And Buddha showed him that upon his middle finger was written the words “Sun Wukong was here” and there was a little spot of monkey pee on his palm by the finger.
“That’s not fair!” cried Xue Yang. But it was too late, and he was caught.