When Jealousy Rears Her Lovely Head
The Adventures of Wu Hsing Jade
© 2014 by Richard Messer
Three femmes and a male canine were seated around the table in the kitchen once more. Wu Hsing Jade and her aunt, Yun, listened to the incident at Datchurio’s Emporium until rat and dog had finished. The younger of the lepine does finished her cigarette and crushed it out in the brass ashtray.
“So grandmother was part of this, then,” she said while blowing herbal smoke towards the ceiling.
Wu Hsing Yun took the pipe from her lips and shook her head. “She had her reasons, child, and they must have been very strong ones. Something must have happened in Bangkok so as to involve herself in this matter. But demon worshippers?”
She muttered something under her breath and made a quick sign with her fingers. Her niece noted it for a sign against evil, mildly surprised to ‘see’ the energy trace through Sun Wukong’s Tear. Ming Xue recognized it for a spell of protection, but said nothing. She took a sip of her tea, her pipe laying cold on the table.
“It may have been to keep it out of the hands of Siamese government agents close to the Japanese. That way it could not be used against our people,” the young rat femme said. This brought a questioning look from Hargreave.
“What’s that got to do with my murder investigation?”
The elder lepine doe fixed the boxer with a cold stare. “What is said within this room will not be repeated outside of it. What my mother, as my sister and her husband, was involved with was of a sensitive nature, both politically and spiritually. Certain - ‘items’- were recovered and sent here to the Spontoon Islands for safe keeping. This necklace of the lamia would be such an item. And Xin Xue has the means of safeguarding such items.”
Wu Hsing Yun bowed her head, took a deep breath, and fixed her gaze once more on the detective.
“We could bind you to secrecy for the time being. However, others have witnessed the manifestation of this demon, and not knowing how your constabulary would deal with the internal disciplining of this matter, leaves us in an awkward position of keeping this quiet.”
With a soft “harrumph” Graeme Hargreave fixed his hostess with a steely stare in return before speaking. “I understand your concern, madam, but that has been dealt with by the commissioner yesterday. He had seen the photographic evidence of that ‘thing’ that came out of the box. And made it quite clear to anyone who happened to have seen it springing from the box that their careers were on the line should a word of the incident be spoken about, period!”
Rabbit and boxer continued to stare at each other before Yun made a curt nod. “Then that should settle that matter for the time being.” She turned her attention to Jade. “You must get ahold of Xin Xue and see if you can make an appointment of meeting her this evening about the necklace. And take Sue with you to present her side of what has happened.”
“Yes, ma’am,” was all the tall Eurasian doe said as she stood up to make the phone call.
Setting aside her pipe, Wu Hsing Yun stood as well.
“Detective Hargreave, until we receive word from Xin Xue you had best continue to search for this young woman who has the necklace. As Ming Xue had said the word had been sent to the priestesses of the islands to keep a close watch for this Cong Zhoma. And they will listen to what the kami have to say.”
After the elder lepine had left the rodent demon hunter cleaned out her pipe and stowed it into her shoulder bag.
“I guess everything now resides on what this Xin Xue will tell us,” said Hargreave as he picked up his hat from the kitchen table and followed Sue back into the shop. Jade was on the telephone speaking softly into the mouthpiece. At the door the detective paused long enough to hold out his hand. With a quick glance at it the rat femme made the hand shake.
“You will let me know as soon as you can?” Hargreave asked.
“Of course,” Ming Xue replied with a brief nod.
The door bell sounded as the burly canine stepped out just as the rabbit doe behind the counter hung up the receiver.
“Madame Xin Xue said she would be happy to talk to us over dinner this evening. She was rather disappointed that the necklace was lost to the hands of someone who would use it for personal gain.”
“And it is important that we impress upon her the need to recover this damn artifact as quickly as possible.”
Wu Hsing Jade was taken aback by this self-assuredness of her young friend and lover.
“It’s almost as if you had grown up a little,” she said softly.
This caused the rodent femme to stare into the taller one’s eyes. “Maybe our time in Siam made this happen, or that knowing you and how much I was beginning to love you also allowed this to happen. Or maybe the gods felt it was my time to step forward and assume my task as being a demon hunter.”
There was a silence between them for a moment before Jade gathered the younger femme into her arms. They held the hug for a minute then finished it with a kiss before resuming their work behind the counter in finishing the orders to be fulfilled.
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Madame Xin Xue - (larger file here - 6.4 MBytes)
Art by L. Frank - http://www.furaffinity.net/user/wom-bat/
Twilight was settling over the Xin Xue compound in the wooded hills of South Island when the taxi pulled up to the gate. Out of a gate house came an elderly boar to see who had arrived. He paused long enough to see two femmes, one a tall, tawny Eurasian rabbit and the other a Chinese rat of medium height with gray-brown fur, step out of the vehicle. Both had their long hair dressed up and sported colorful cheongsams wrapped about their bodies.
Lingchou knew to expect these visitors at this hour, so he approached the taxi with many bows.
<Ah, Mistress Wu Hsing, Mistress Ming, you have arrived in time!>
Both femmes bowed in return. <Lingchou, a pleasure to see you again,> said Jade, her painted lips parted into a smile.
The taxi left, having been prepaid for this run.
<This way, please. Mistress Xin has dinner waiting for you,> said the porcine gatekeeper as he led the way to the main house. At the main door the pair were past to an elderly red panda femme who led them passed the dining room to a smaller room. Here Xin Xue waited for them at a small table laid out for three.
The middle-aged panda woman rose from her seat and came to greet her guests. They exchanged bows, then hugs, before taking their seats. Xin Xue wore a gown of deep greens and blues, and her white hair was swept up into a bouffant. From behind her pince-nez glasses the panda femme’s black eyes glittered with delight at having these two in her home.
“Please, be seated,” she said, switching from Cantonese to English. After they took their chairs the panda clapped her hands and called for them to be served. Servants entered from another door and set loaded plates and urns down on the table before departing. A quick prayer was spoken before the food was passed around and the three settled down to eat. Conversation covered several everyday topics, but not the subject Jade and Sue wished to present to their hostess. Too much of a chance they could be overheard by the staff.
When they had eaten the three picked up their tea cups and proceeded to the panda’s study. Three leather overstuffed chairs were set in a circle before a hearth in which burned a small fire. Xin Xue took down two churchwarden pipes from the rack on the mantle. She presented them to her guests before claiming a third for herself. From a porcelain jar the three filled their pipe bowls with the mixture within before accepting the lighted spill that the panda femme brought from the fire. When their pipes were drawing the women took a seat in the chairs. There came a knock at the door as two servants entered, one bearing a tray with a tea pot while the other carried a small table. These items were set between the chairs before they bowed out of the room.
Rat, rabbit, and panda enjoyed the solitude of a quiet smoke and tea. A thin gray haze hung among the beams of the ceiling as the three women drank tea and smoked the herbal mixture. After a couple of minutes Xin Xue broke the silence.
“Now we can speak in complete safety,” she said, blowing a streamer of smoke into the air. She looked to Wu Hsing Jade. “Please explain to me the reason for this lamia necklace being involved in a murder.”
Taking a sip of tea the tawny Eurasian lepine replied, “Best to ask Ming Xue as she has become involved with this case.”
The panda looked to the rodent femme, her black eyes glittering behind her glasses. Feeling nervous at this attention from such a powerful figure in the Chinese wako world, Ming Xue took a quick sip of tea before beginning her tale.
“The necklace was being used by a Siamese named Cong Zhoma to extract revenge on a local boy named Teng Ningfu who had rejected her attention. What the police, and I, want to know is how this girl got ahold of such a powerful artifact!”
The older panda became lost in thought for a minute before looking up at her guests.
“Jade’s grandmother, Wu Hsing Teng, first notified me about three months ago, after your visit to Siam, about a separate collusion between elements of the Siamese and Japanese governments.”
“Other than the medical experiments in the jungle?” Jade asked through a thin gray cloud.
The panda nodded after taking the pipe from her lips. “This one appears to be more insidious that what you two had been involved in. One of your grandmother’s operatives came upon this by happenstance.”
“How so?” asked Ming Xue while blowing a streamer of smoke into the air.
“The operative was Cong Qin Po’s wife.”
Both rabbit and rat femmes nearly choked on their pipes. “His wife?” gasped the rodent femme while clearing her throat.
Again Xin Xue nodded. “Second wife, I should say. The first one seemed to have died under mysterious circumstances about three years ago. From what I have come to understand is that this Cong Qin Po is a priest of a little known religion that came from India some centuries ago. The thugs, an ancient order of assassins in that country, had run out another order of assassins who worshipped a demon goddess known as Vlantongu. This goddess took on the aspect of a lamia, a creature that is half-furry and half-snake.”
Tilting her head back, Ming Xue blew smoke rings into the air before nodding agreement. “I discovered this from my encounter with the island priestesses during our visit to Kami Island. But what I cannot understand is how Cong Zhoma, this priest’s daughter, managed to get ahold of the necklace in the first place!”
The panda femme smiled around her pipe stem. “’Elementary, my dear Watson’.” This brought blank looks from her guests. “Forgive me, but I have been reading Sherlock Holmes’ mysteries of late and have wanted to say that line from the books. But returning to your concern, Wu Hsing Tang had learned about this second secret attempt by elements in the Siamese government to work with the Japanese in regard to dealing with the growing unrest among the Chinese populace in Siam over the war in China.
“Jade, your grandmother somehow managed to learn about this gathering of Siamese and Japanese officials long before you’re being sent to Bangkok back in June. She never passed on the full details of what this gathering entailed, but indicated that the use of dark, diabolical means were paramount in its execution.” She paused long enough to refill their tea cups before taking a sip and resuming her narrative.
“Somehow Tang planned on having one of her operatives marry Cong Qin Po and learn by whatever means a priest of a demon goddess was to play in this tragic opera.”
The young demon hunter’s eyes narrowed as she took a puff of her pipe. It had gone cold. “So this secret agent of Grandmother Tang married the priest, learned of what was going to happen, stole the necklace and sent it to the islands. Is that correct?”
“That is correct.”
Absently Ming Xue packed the bowl of her pipe with a finger then muttered under her breath. The tawny Eurasian lepine knew those words as a whiff of smoke curled up from the bowl. Xin Xue’s black eyes widened in their black patches at seeing this bit of the demon hunter’s capabilities.
“So Cong Zhoma’s father found out about the theft, and either sent his daughter to retrieve it, or else had her find out where it was and notify him its whereabouts so he could come and get it himself.” The rat woman paused to puff softly as she collected more of her thoughts. “But it didn’t work out as well as he had hoped for. All the time Zhoma was here on Casino Island working at the Great Pagoda restaurant, she became infatuated with Tang Ningfu and tried to have a relationship with him, probably far from her father’s intrusive eyes... But the relationship never developed as she had hoped for. So with the necklace and understanding of how it works, took her revenge on Tang and has gone into hiding.”
Wu Hsing Jade gave her friend and lover a sidelong glance. “What do you mean ‘understanding’?”
Ming Xue looked at her. “From what Master Tang had taught me under his apprenticeship, such societies are strictly male oriented. With no son to pass on the secrets to, this Cong Qin Po must have found a young male in his organization to teach the secret knowledge to, probably without realizing that his own daughter must have been watching all this from the sidelines. And without this formal training, the first time Zhoma called up this Vlantongu would have proven difficult in controlling it. That could have been why her flat was devastated. Somehow she managed to regain control and resumed her original form and fled the place. Then in hiding somewhere she could have the chance to practice the summoning without prying eyes around, and find the confidence in gaining control over this lamia, and learning its secrets and capabilities.”
A soft chuckle came from the furry throat of the lepine doe. “Detective Hargreave could use you on the constabulary with those powers of deduction.”
Blowing pipe smoke into the gray atmosphere, the middle-aged leader of the Chinese wako nodded her agreement. “Maybe I should put in a word for them to keep you on retainer to help them when dealing with a crime of a supernatural nature.”
The inside of her round ears burning from embarrassment, Ming Xue arose to knock the remains from her pipe into the fireplace before setting the pipe back up into the rack.
“We must remember that this is all supposition. We don’t have enough facts to support what I had just laid out as to what the events truly were.”
“But you have a damn good line of thought as to how this turn of events may have proceeded along with what little has been presented,” said Xin Xue as she stood up and copied the younger femme’s actions. Then she turned to face the Chinese rodent and took her hands into her own.
“I am proud of you, Ming Xue, proud at your being able to put together this puzzle, being there for Jade when you both were in Siam on such a dangerous mission, but most of all, proud that you have the skills and knowledge to deal with the dark unknown that very few people have.” So saying the panda stepped up to the embarrassed rat and gave her a kiss.
And Jade recognized this as a sign for her departure. Draining her tea cup, the lepine followed suit with her pipe, gave the other femmes a quick kiss, and announced that it was time for her to leave.
“Sue, I’m leaving you in good company tonight, so you might as well enjoy your dalliance at the moment. I’ll let Aunt Yun that you will be a little, ah, ‘late’ in getting home in the morning.”
With that the bearer of Sun Wukong’s Tear murmured under her breath, took a turn to her left, and vanished from the room!
The two Xues stared at the spot where the rabbit femme had stood, before the older panda femme turned back to her now-overnight guest and smiled.