When Jealousy Rears Her Lovely Head
The Adventures of Wu Hsing Jade
© 2014 by Richard Messer
The telephone rang and a black-fingered brown hand reached for the receiver.
“Detective Sergeant Hargreave speaking...,” he started, then froze as what entered his ear made him sit up. “What? Where? When?” The boxer switched the phone to his left hand while grabbing a pencil with the right and began scribbling on a note pad. “Thanks, thanks for letting me know, Sari Aha. Yes, I’ll get ahold of Ming Xue as soon as I can. Bye.”
Using the pencil the detective pressed the cradle down then dialed two numbers. A ring sounded twice before someone answered. “Skipper, Graeme here. Just got a call from one of my priestesses. Seems Cong Zhoma made an attack on that Hsu Chuan girl over on Main Island, at her grandparent’s place. Yeah, I’ll grab a boat and get over there as quick as I can. But I need to make one more call before I head over.
“Uh huh, her; we’re going to need her now more than we ever had before. She’s the only one we know who’s capable of facing Cong, and right now we can’t pass up this opportunity. Right, I’ll call from the station over there once I get there. And thanks, we’ll need all the luck we can get. Bye”
Setting the receiver back into the cradle, Graeme Hargreave sat back after grabbing his coffee cup. A quick taste said it was cold and bitter. A quick thought of maybe changing to tea ran through his mind as he consulted his notebook before grabbing the telephone again.
There was a wait of four rings before the familiar voice of Wu Hsing Jade answered.
“Yes, Miss Bannon, Detective Sergeant Hargreave here. I need to..., okay, I’ll wait.” The boxer detective heard the lepine doe call out for the young rat woman in the background. He told himself that he needed to learn a little more Chinese one of these days. Over the receiver he heard the telephone being passed to someone else.
“Miss Ming? Yes, it’s me. It appears that Cong Zhoma made an attack on Hsu Chuan over on Main Island about ten minutes ago. I need to get over there as soon as possible. Any chance you can make it over there? Good, then I should get going and meet you over there. Bye”
Sitting back in his chair, Hargreave took a deep sigh before checking his revolver in its shoulder holster. He never had a case as strange or offbeat as this one; never one involving the supernatural, or characters with such skills and capabilities as that young rat femme working in a Chinese herb shop. He stood up and snatched his hat and jacket off of the coat tree before heading out. Trevor Hix stuck his head out of his office and called after the boxer, saying that the police cruiser was waiting for him.
“Thanks, Skipper,” the canine tossed over his shoulder as he made his way down the hall to the stairs. Outside the station Hargreave caught a police car pulling into its stall.
“Need to get to the docks, now,” was all he said after climbing in. The fox behind the wheel merely blinked before pulling out and headed towards his new destination.
It was a few minutes ride across the bay towards the peninsula. The wooden hull ground up on the sand and gravel beach where a crowd had gathered around the remains of a fishing boat. A few of the villagers were tending to the occupants. Hargreave recognized them as constables, noting how the others were looking after them. He turned at his name being shouted. Missy Pohovic and Sari Aha were waving him over towards the stoop of a small bungalow. As he worked his way to them he caught out of the corner of his eye an older Siamese feline couple comforting a younger three- colored femme. That was Hsu Chuan and her grandparents. When he stopped before the equine pair of priestesses he accepted the cup of tea without pause or comment. The boxer looked to the older chestnut mare.
“Want to give me a little more detail as to what had happened here?”
Taking a sip of tea herself, Sari Aha said, “It would appear that Cong Zhoma attempted an attack on Hsu Chuan from the water. Your constables in the boats fired on her with their pistols, and someone said they think one of them may have hit her. Cong smashed one of the boats,” she pointed to the wreckage, “then drove herself onto shore after the girl.”
Missy Pohovic nodded before picking up the narrative. “Two of the other constables here in the village made a quick grab of Hsu Chuan and tried to get her away as quickly as possible.”
The boxer detective gave a frown. “Did Cong get anywhere near her?”
Sari Aha smiled. “Not hardly. It seems her grandmother had a trick up her sleeve from the old country.”
“As both grandparents are beekeepers they had their way of protecting themselves and others. Siripool Wanee simply called up the bees and they attacked the lamia straight on.”
The thought of thousands of stingers piercing every square inch of skin caused the detective to wince in sympathy. He’d been stung a few times in his younger days, but to have that happening all at once . . .
“Damn, I feel sorry for her,” Hargreave said in low tones after a shiver ran through his being. Then he thought a moment before adding, “Well, almost feel sorry.”
The gray mare shrugged her bare shoulders. “Use whatever means that are available.”
“Is Ming Xue going to join us?” Sari Aha looked around for the young Chinese rat femme.
The canine gave a shrug. “She said she’d be here soon, but I don’t know when.”
“How about now!”
They all turned to see the demon hunter step out of the trees from the direction of the village. She was still dressed in her work dress of black jacket and slacks with slippers.
Hargreave arched an eyebrow. “How the hell did you get here so damn quick, if I might ask? You’re further away than I was.”
Ming Xue stepped up to the group, a smile gracing her gray-brown face. “I have a friend who has ‘a few tricks up her sleeves’ I believe is the saying. So she was capable of getting me here quickly. Now, where is Hsu Chuan?”
They pointed to the stoop where the aforementioned subject was seated with her grandparents. Ming Xue seated herself on the upper step and regarded the trio. The older Siamese couple sat on a low bench with a slightly shaken Hsu Chuan between them, a tea cup held absently in her hands.
“Hsu Chuan?” The young rodent femme asked softly.
The tri-colored feline turned dull eyes on her. “Yes?”
“I am Ming Xue. The priestesses of the islands had called on me to help Detective Hargreave in this case. When Cong Zhoma attacked you earlier, do you remember anything out of the ordinary about her?”
The young feline femme seemed to be lost in thought for the space of several heartbeats.
“Must you make her go through that again?” Siripool Wanee asked sternly, her gray features harden with this question.
The demon hunter looked at the grandmother, then said, <It is necessary for me to learn if anything special might have occurred. I am a demon hunter from Shanghai, and I’ve dealt with an ogre in Siam months ago. I’ve seen worse things during my time with my late master in combating these creatures of the darkness. What I need to know will be helpful in dealing with Cong Zhoma as quickly as possible.>
The two older Siamese stared at this femme, having been startled by her use of Cantonese as well as identifying her craft. Wanee and Direk glanced at one another before answering.
<When this creature, this lamia, came ashore, there was something odd about her face,> replied the gray femme.
Siripool Wanee looked down to the wooden deck, lost in thought for moment, before looking at the gray-brown femme in black clothes.
<I remember the white patch around the left eye, but there was something more to her face. It was as if it had changed.>
<Changed?> asked Ming Xue, her dark brown eyes narrowing. <In what manner?>
With a swallow, as if she had tasted something vile, the older femme said, <The muzzle looked more elongated than usual, and had grown much broader.> Siripool Wanee looked out towards the crowd of villagers on the beach before pointing to a particular figure. She pointed this Spontoonie out to Ming Xue with a, <Like him.>
The demon hunter looked towards the personage and her eyes widen. The figure indicated was reptilian.
<It is as I feared,> Sue said softly, and then thanking the three Siamese excused herself to rejoin the mares and boxer.
“It’s gotten worse,” was her answer to the inquisitive looks from the others.
“That’s all we need right now,” groaned the detective. He shook his head in a resigned manner before looking to Ming Xue. “How has it gotten worse?”
Ignoring the boxer’s comment Sue filled them in on Cong Zhoma’s change. “It seems without proper training in using the necklace; the entity within it is slowly taking over her. And the more she uses it, the more she’ll succumb to its influence, eventually being replaced by the demon.”
The detective stuck a cigar into his mouth and lit it. “Then how are we going to beat it, if it’s growing more and more powerful?”
This gave Ming Xue pause while she racked her brains for a solution. It wasn’t going to be easy as she will be fighting a deity rather than a creature called forth from the other side. The more she thought about it, the more it looked like a direct confrontation was the only solution.
“I’ve got to face her,” she stated to the other three. “That’s the only way I can see to destroy her. I made need help from the constabulary, and I may have to call on my friend to back me up it this.”
Hargreave frowned through a cloud of smoke. “Who are you talking about?”
“Wu Hsing Jade. She has skills that are far greater than mine.” The rodent femme gave a grin. “She can call upon a god herself to help us.”
Now the boxer detective looked surprised. “A god?” he began, then shut his muzzle. It felt better to keep quiet about this after what he has learned in the past few days. Demons and gods!?
Heaving a sigh Hargreave asked, “What do we need to do to smoke her out for this fight?”
Ming Xue paused, and then said, “We need to make up some small bills to be pasted around the islands. And it will have to be printed in Cantonese so that we can draw out her father as well. And this meeting will have to be on Kami Island.”
The two mare priestesses came awake at this. “Why there?” asked Missy Pohovic. “The kamis are just now settling down. Why stir them up again?”
The young rat femme looked to her. “It is the place this all started at; it will be the place it needs to end at, as well. We need to call on their powers to help in dispatching this creature, as I will ask Jade to help out. And we’ll also need the constabulary to capture the father when he shows up.”
“What makes you think Cong himself will be there,” asked the detective.
“Because in the way those bills will be worded,” stated the demon hunter, a vicious grin on her gray-brown countenance.