When Jealousy Rears Her Lovely Head
The Adventures of Wu Hsing Jade
© 2014 by Richard Messer
Scattered clouds played hide-and-seek with the early afternoon sun. There was no one discernible on Kami Island other than two figures seated under the palm-frond awning of a pavilion. Ming Xue and her friend, and lover, Wu Hsing Jade, sat opposite each other at the wooden table. Two half-full soda bottles stood between them, the femmes quietly smoking.
“Think they’ll come?’ the tall Eurasian lepine quietly asked while aiming a streamer of smoke into the air as she knocked ash from her cigarette.
gray-brown rodent femme nodded without taking the pipe from her lips.
“They’ll be here. We had those flyers printed in such a vague
manner as to arouse both father and daughter to come here, remember?”
She appeared calm, but the twitchiness of her slender tail said
otherwise. Jade noted this and knew there was a nervous tempest
roiling in her friend’s belly.
The rabbit femme, who bore Sun Wukong’s Tear in her left eye socket, covered by a green velvet patch, arrived at the designated place on Main Island about half an hour after sending Ming Xue ahead the day before. She needed to appear as if she had gotten there by a water taxi. Passing through the villagers, the doe’s long ears swiveled at the words being tossed about by the natives, arriving to the conclusion that Cong Zhoma may have gained greater control of the lamia avatar. And was mildly shocked at some of the descriptions of her transformation.
Wu Hsing Jade met up with Sue and the Spontoonie priestess mares at the Siripool residence. A quick recap of what had happened after the attack left an amazed rabbit doe staring at the older Siamese couple with mild surprise and admiration.
<So, you can call up the bees for assistance?>
Siripool Wanee nodded with a broad, toothy grin. <It is a gift that is passed down through the women on my side of the family. Has come in handy in the past, and I’m hoping young Chuan will have it when she reaches her maturity.>
The young tri-colored femme felt the inside of her ears grow red from embarrassment. <Please, grandmother, I don’t know if I’ll have it or not. And if it does come forth, what will I do with it? I don’t know if I’ll ever keep bees like you or grandfather!>
<The time will come, child,> rumbled the elder brown Siamese male, <and you might be surprised at how handy this skill will come in. You could always take over the family business as we have before.> Then his brows furrowed. <If only your mother had showed the slightest interest.>
<That will be enough of that talk!> chided his mate. <There’ll be time to discuss it later. Right now we have to deal with Vlantongu!>
This caused the rodent femme to perk up her tail. <You know of this demon?>
The older feline femme gave a short hiss that startled the two priestess mares. <Know of it? It was the reason why we left Siam. It seemed that some fursonages in the government were getting tired of the outcries of our people for better schools, housing, and medical care. Some of our friends and neighbors who were very vocal about it were disappearing, to be later found dead with large fang bites in their throats and the blood drained from their bodies. We knew it was the work of the followers of Vlantongu because we also heard that they had been enlisted by these fursonages to silence them. So we packed up Chuan and her mother, and came to the Spontoon Islands by way of the Philippines.>
Ming Xue digested this bit of news while her mind went back over what had been formulated earlier. <Then we need to get to Ding Feng’s print shop on Casino Island to have those bills made up. And I know we can find some volunteers who would be eager to paste them all over the islands.>
When all agreed to the plan, the mares went up to the bungalow with the Siamese, while rat and rabbit followed the detective to the police boat. They bypassed Meeting Island and went straight to a taxi dock on Casino. As the two femmes disembarked, Ming Xue glanced up to see the Great Pagoda restaurant not far away. The tall edifice of white stucco, green trim, and granite stood bright against the blue and white of the sky.
That was where all this had started, thought the young rodent as she joined her lepine companion.
<Something wrong?> Jade said softly as the two of them started down the street towards their destination.
Sue spared her a glance before returning her gaze to the sidewalk. <This all started within that restaurant, and now, Guan Yin willing, we will end it on Kami Island. I do not want the fight to take place back there, where the damage would be severe and lives in peril.>
The tall Eurasian gave a sidelong glance before fitting an herbal cigarette to the black holder. She gave a sharp bark of laughter. <You have become very philosophical lately, my dear.> As she started to take the match case from her purse, the doe was startled by the wisp of smoke rising from the end of her cigarette.
The rodent demon hunter gave a sly smile. <Why waste a match when you have me?> And with that Ming Xue picked up the pace of their walk until they reached the small print shop. Inside, they met the elderly bear who owned the place.
<Ah, the lovely Wu Hsing Jade, and the famed hunter of dark creatures,> Ding Feng stated with a slight wheeze and bow. He turned to the slighter rodent femme and bowed again. <I knew your master when we were both youths in Shanghai. A most valuable fursonage in that loathsome city was he. I am so sorry that he lost his life long after I had left for these islands.
<But enough of reminiscing and tell me what service I can perform for you two illustrious ladies?>
Bowing in return, Ming Xue said, <Sir, we have need of some handbills to be printed that have to be pasted all over the islands soonest. I trust you are aware of the death of a young furson on Kami Island a few days ago?>
The old bruin nodded his gray head sagely. <A most unfortunate event to befall someone of his age. And I have enjoyed the cakes he created at The Great Pagoda.> Ding Feng emphasized this statement by patting his rounded belly. <But I’m willing to oblige in the need of capturing of the one responsible for his death.> Again he bowed before leading the two femmes to the counter.
Ming Xue quickly outlined what the bills need to say and the number of bills to be printed. The old printer looked at the list he made, then at the rat femme.
<What you are asking for will be expensive, and how they are to be distributed will be difficult in such a short order.>
The rodent’s slender tail drooped at this statement. Sue had expected the cost to be substantial, but she hadn’t given much thought as to the time required for the printing of the flyers and their being sent around the islands. Her round ears curled in in fear at what was becoming a daunting task. But the old bear smiled at this.
<And yet, it will be done, little one. In respect for your late master and my good friend, I will so order this printing at half the cost, and will summon my apprentices to gather their friends to see to the distribution of the bills!>
Tears began to brim the brown eyes of a suddenly relieved Ming Xue as she, unexpectedly, threw her arms around the rotund figure of the master printer for a heart-felt hug.
<Thank you, Master Ding, thank you! I am so glad that you are willing to help me in this endeavor, even if it means a lighter purse for you today!>
The bear smiled again, returning the hug before holding the now-excited Ming Xue at arm’s length.
<Let us not waste time now on such mush. You have a task to do, and my shop is honor bound to help out.> Then turning to a curtain doorway he roared out a couple of names. Presently two young bruins stepped out in ink-splotched aprons at the summoning. They blinked in surprise at the two lovely femmes until the shop owner snapped at them to pay attention. The younger bears listened to the orders, bowed and disappeared back into the work area.
Feng turned back to his customers smiled and bowed to them once more.
<All will proceed as requested.>
After the cost was settled (Wu Hsing Jade had promised to get the money from her aunt), rat and rabbit headed home, knowing that the worse part was coming the next day. And now they sat at a covered pavilion on a small rocky point of land between Meeting and Main Islands, watching the time tick down on their wristwatches. Somewhere amongst the rock and scrub lurked a boxer detective and his constables, ready to arrest the elder Cong should he arrive, and assist the two femmes in taking down the daughter, no matter what form she took.
Laying aside her pipe, Ming Xue drained her drink and stood stretching. “Think I’ll take a short walk around.”
The rabbit doe crushed out her smoke and pocketed the holder. “Think that’s wise?”
The rat femme shook her head, her shoulder length black hair brushing her back. “No, but it’s better than sitting here and waiting for them to show up. While up and moving I may get lucky in spotting one or the other.”
Jade nodded, thinking it was a good idea as well. She finished her drink and set the bottle next to the other. Then stepping up beside the demon hunter, and using Sun Wukong’s Tear, scanned the surrounding grounds. The variations in colors that flooded her vision made the femme a little queasy. The ground and vegetation appeared as darker colors touched here and there with small sparks of bright orange and yellows for either birds or smaller rodents. Once in a while she would catch the large splash of brightness for one of the constables. And a glance towards an up-thrust of rock would indicate where Detective Hargreave was hiding.
“Its two o’clock,” were the flat words from the rodent femme. “What was it the Americans would say in those cowboy movies? ‘Time for a showdown?’”
The lepine femme stiffened, her gaze towards the northwest. “And I think it’s time, too.”
Ming Xue’s ears twitched at this as she looked in the same direction. A figure in bright ceremonial dress had risen from the rocks there and was slowly making his way towards the pavilion.
“Cong Qin Pio,” the demon hunter muttered under breath as she made sure once again that her fans were loose and easy to draw from the shoulder bag. Her tall friend remained motionless, but ready to spring into action.
The high priest of Vlantongu picked his way through the coarse ground of the island, making sure not to snag his robes on the basaltic outcroppings or scrub. When he was within hailing distance the feline stopped, bringing a hand up to cup around his mouth.
<I am here, as you have demanded. Where is my daughter?>
<Haven’t seen her yet,> Wu Hsing Jade called back. <She should be here soonest.>
At that distance both femmes saw the gaily clad figure stiffen, arms held out from his side.
<I have no time for these childish games! Will she be here or not?>
<I am here, father!>
Cong Qin Po took an involuntary step back as the rat and rabbit spun around at the voice behind them. Rising up from a jumble of boulders towered the lamia that was once Cong Zhoma. Her feline body was still black and fur-covered. However, her countenance had transformed into something hideously reptilian; the familiar white patch over her left eye had stretched due to the elongation of her muzzle. And her body was fitted to a great green and black snake’s sinuous figure that rose from concealment. And between her bare breasts dangled the gold necklace of Vlantongu!
Spreading wide muscular arms that ended in strong talons, the creature that was a chimera of mammal and reptile threw her head back and barked out a laugh that was underlined with the sibilant hiss of the snake!
<Behold, my dear father, the avatar of Vlantongu, as he should be!>
<You ungrateful bitch!> shouted Cong Qin Po as he climbed up on a boulder to shake a fist at his wayward daughter. <You will never know the ways of Vlantongu, no matter how long you keep that necklace!>
Cong Zhoma threw back her head again and gave that same hideous laugh! <You are a fool, father! You hated me since the day I was born female. And you hated mother for that fact as well. You never gave us the love we wanted, and needed! It was serving this abomination that was more important to you than your family. And the time spent with your male acolytes made us wonder whether or not you were enjoying them more than mother, who took her own life rather than to live with the shame of rejection.>
<You watch your tongue, Zhoma! Whether I took pleasure from those acolytes, or not, is no concern of yours! You were worthless to Vlantongu for being female. He demands strong males to serve him, and how you got that necklace is irrelevant as long as you give it back!>
The lamia slowly moved forward, long arms swinging by her sides, oblivious of the two femmes who stood wide-eyed and slack-jawed at her passing. The intensity of her hatred towards her sire blazed bright in her black eyes as the thing that once was Cong Zhoma towered over the Siamese priest. He took an involuntary step back, but otherwise held his ground. That great reptilian head lowered itself down to stare, unblinking, into the priest’s eyes; the ears, long and leathery, laid back. In a soft voice that resonated like a small earthquake she continued.
<I knew you had your second wife killed by your followers, father, because you learned from those lackeys in the government that this necklace had been stolen and sent here to the Spontoon Islands.> A thick claw, like a dagger blade, tapped the golden medallion nestled between furry breasts. <You served those shameless fools who followed orders from Tokyo, because they paid you in gold to silence those who dared to raise their voices against them. Even if we were not Chinese, how long before they would turn their attention to us, as threats against them?
<As for learning the ways of Vlantongu, it hadn’t been easy. Even from watching you train those you deemed worthy of the task, I still missed some of the words and gestures necessary to call forth this god and have control over his capabilities. I nearly destroyed my flat the first time I called him forth, but managed to exert enough effort to put him back into the necklace. Once I fled to a much quieter place to live and learn, we came to an understanding over who was in control.>
The serpentine head cocked itself and regarded the gaily dressed figure before her. <Vlantongu was intrigued by the idea of a female in control of his avatar, going along as he was interested in what manifestation we could achieve. This god found it was more to his liking, to find the female far more devious and diabolical, in satisfying that burning lust to kill and maim.
<But Vlantongu helped me as I helped him. He learned of my desire to have Teng Ningfu for a lover; of his rejection of me as such. Thus we came to an agreement. And it wasn’t long before I learned of Teng Ningfu and that bitch, Hsu Chuan, coming here with their friends from the Great Pagoda restaurant to celebrate the end of Speed Week.>
Then the lamia reared high into the air, as far as the serpent body would allow. Those sharp claws were spread wide as the beast gave a great bellow that was sure to have been heard all the way to South Island.
<Thus I ended Teng Ningfu’s life, crushing him like a beetle. As I will do you, dear father, for the torment you made of my and mother’s lives!>
This brought a bellow of rage from the elder Cong. With the sleeves of his robe flapping about him, Cong Qin Po wove a ball of energy before him that he launched at the serpentine creature. Vlantongu took the blow in the belly, bringing a scream like ripping sheet metal.
Ming Xue and Wu Hsing Jade dove for cover behind a rock outcropping, hands clapped over their ears.
”Now what’ll we do?” cried out the rodent femme, the lamia’s cry nearly bursting her eardrums.
“I don’t know,” shouted the Eurasian doe, “but it had better be something before we’re both deaf!”