“Tell me again what did he look like this stranger?” Wang Wei had a sparkle in his eye, except rice wine there was not much to take your mind off things around here.
“He was kind of short actually,” that drew a laugh out of Wang, “though I wouldn’t say that to his face, and the way everyone else kept out of his way I reckon no one else would have taken it up to him either. He just came in, didn’t even take a moment to look around just came straight to me, and this is what he said to me, he actually said this, ‘You sound like the bartender’. I ‘sound’ like the bartender, I hadn’t even said anything when he had come in. He asked for a whole bottle of rice wine, didn’t want a cup, drank it straight out of the bottle. Gave me this for it,” the bartender hefted a golden coin emblazoned with a dragon facing out from the front, “I could buy another 20 bottles of rice wine with that money and he justs throws it away casually as if it’s nothing to him.”
Wang guffaws, “So what happened afterwards?”
“Well for a long time he was just sitting there and then the idiot Zhang decides it’s a good idea to go over there and try to ‘entertain’ him. According to Zhang he looked like he could use some company, ‘Doesn’t he look sad to you’ ” the bartender parroted in a heavily exaggerated impression of their mutual friend. “So anyway he goes over to him, rice wine in hand ‘The rain is a bummer for sure’ he says, you could hear the whole room trying to keep the laughter in. If the man reacted in anyway it had to be hidden by those dark eye pieces of his. For some reason Zhang saw that as a sign that he was doing well, he starting pulling out a chair and the next thing we all know is that he is doubled over, his rice wine on the floor and it seems like Zhang is trying to decide whether it is his head or stomach that hurts more. No one saw the stranger move but we all know what happened. Except Zhang it seems, when we come over he swore that he must have hit his head on the table somehow.”
“What an imbecile,” Wang shook his head with a smile.
Below in the cellar, the stranger was finally stirring. Why didn’t I buy a second bottle for the morning, he thought to himself, he was already missing the comforting haze that slowed the constant stream of memories and thoughts. It was too late he wasn’t going to come back to the main room again, he had already caused quite a stir when that moron decided to press his luck with him. What was that guy thinking, he was lucky that I can’t afford to make too much of a scene. The man found a narrow window on the very bottom of the street, he scrambled out. It was still quite early but everyone would already be busy at work mostly out on the rice patties, he could also hear the sound of a hammer ringing out on red hot iron coming from a nearby smithy. It shouldn’t be too hard to leave unnoticed, he could hear exactly where the few people out and about were walking.
As soon as he left the village the first migraines of his hangover hit him, oh how he was craving that rice wine now, how long away was the next village, he decided to walk a bit faster. Soon it was the rustle of leaves in the forest, not the drip, drip sound of the light rain on the rice paddies that filled the air. He began feeling a rising sick feeling coming up to his throat, he felt his way for some support finding a tree he threw up underneath it. Suddenly a voice made him swing around making him spew the remainder of the vomit in its direction.
“Is this what I came all this way to see, a lone drunk vagabond? I heard tale of the greatest of fighters, not a beggar sleeping in whatever place would take him.” The voice was regal yet maintained a certain swagger as its owner hung from a branch, there was a creak as the weight on the branch shifted.
“Who are you, how did you find me?” he threw out his questions like punches while a thousand more unvoiced questions stirred in his mind.
“I’ve been following you for a while, half the time your drunk or recovering it hasn’t been that hard” whoever it was now on the ground and softly padding forward (no wonder he hadn’t detected him before, he could hardly hear him now), he stopped inches away from the man “Lee Sin! That name is still held in high regard by many.”
“Why did you come if you know who I am, not many would dare” Lee said, stepping back and readying himself, was that a tail flicking in the wind.
“That is exactly why I came, I now hold the blades forged in the fires of the shadow dragon, the spear that calls lightning from the sky is also mine. The ones that once held these were no match for me and I am not satisfied; there will be no wondering who is the greatest warrior once I am finished. That is why I’m here, I have come here to vanquish you. You will bow to me,” Lee didn’t wait to see if he was finished, his leg already coiling ready to flick out towards the source of the voice, the head. His foot solidly connected with a wooden quarterstaff, his body recoiled to quickly strike at his opponent, his fists flying. The first one hit nothing but air, his second colliding with a fur covered shoulder. Lee leapt back.
“Wukong! I guess this is an honour, though I never understood how a god could challenge mortals and call it a fair fight” he laughed despite the fact that he was feeling like he was ready to throw up for the second time. His laugh was cut short as he felt the sharp crack of the metal part of the quarterstaff on his head this being accompanied by short satisfied grunt, suddenly he was being overcome by a flurry of blows seeming to come from everywhere at the same time. It was all Lee could do to stop the seemingly unstoppable cyclone of attacks from taking him out of the fight, slowly but surely this was going to end badly if he didn’t do something.
Lee drew himself in feeling now instead of thinking, and there he sensed something, the smallest of openings and now with a cry of fury planted his foot straight in the stomach of his adversary, he felt the body crumple around his limb and then shoot forward like an arrow. Guided purely by instinct Lee leaped after the monkey this time his leg hitting skull head on, and punch after punch breaking ribs. Lee reached down to check for a pulse but he grabbed at thin air, Wukong was gone. Lee wasn’t sure whether that meant that he had disposed of the monkey god or if he had used his powers to escape but at least it would dissuade Wukong from bothering him again. Anyway a victory like this definitely called for some rice wine he thought as he finally gave in to the sickness in his throat and started vomiting again.