A/N- Just something stuck in my head that won't leave until I wrote it. Have fun, and hope you enjoy it.
The Great Sage of Heaven
Chapter 1- Screeching Mountain.
The Monkey waited, as his head with the golden sunburnt fur wet with rain and snow stuck out of the base of the mountain with the earth half a foot from his chin. Weeds and root grew around his simian head, while a worn woolly cap shook when he shivered. A golden headband that curved into a wave pattern peaked out from beneath the cap, while Monkey grew impatient. Clouds flared out of his nostrils as he snorted in impatience, and the blanket of snow that covered the bald trees miles away trembled when he coughed and screeched. Hours passed, as morning grew into noon and the sun began to give some mild warmth to Monkey while he waited in the stone. Fifteen feet above him was an inscription carved into the rock, it's power to bind him focused on a strip of brown paper that was pasted at the top.
Karma can be fickle, despite the Lord Buddha saying it's also predictable, Monkey thought, for otherwise why would I be buried in the same rock I was born of thrice in my existence?
Monkey shook the sleet off his head, as he dismissed the sudden interest in the dharma that popped in his head. The freezing wilds here were far from the incense filled shining halls of the temple where the Lord Buddha preached while he snoozed, so he waited as patiently as he could. Monkey hoped his newest friend will arrive before another deep sleep could claim him and he became buried under layers of root and dirt, and centuries will pass before he's awakened.
For a friend. Monkey's ears, already twitching in anticipation perked up as the sound of feet trudging through snow reached him before the scent did. Monkey laughed, a simian. screeching laughter that had sent stout hearted men who faced down storms, tornadoes and gunfire running for the hills, or rather, away from the hills in his case. Legends from the time of the native tribes that once roamed the lands spoke of Monkey, legends which Monkey had been very glad to share with anyone who dared to reach the valley where he laid. Monkey's mind wandered to the past, after he was cast down again for one transgression too many, to the very few who found him.
First, it was the people who reminded him vaguely of the Tang people, whose Emperor his master had served. But instead of silk and tea, they smelled of fish, beaver, bear and deer. Memories centuries old, but still clear as day to Monkey showed a young strapping man in animal skins and a face painted with ash and animal fat that Monkey dubbed Painted Animal. Painted Animal, who fancied himself a warrior had struck him with a stone axe which Monkey laughed off. The man had yelled at him once his ax and all his tools broke, saying his screeching laughter scared away the fish and game. The man also gave Monkey his name, though originally it was far longer- The Mad Laughing Monkey of stone.
Of course, Monkey had taught Painted Animal the word that would become his name, for there were none of his people in this landmass. Monkey promised him all the fish and game in the mortal world Painted animal and his people could take if he could remove the paper charm that empowered the binding inscription, but Painted Animal only squinted at the rock above him and saw nothing. In the end, Painted Animal agreed to bring him when he could honey and berries in return for his stories. Years passed, and Painted Animal would bring his mate and brood to see the wise but noisy Mad Laughing Monkey. Children, as they're wont to do, would crowd around him and pet him, till he hissed to drive them away. It usually ended with Monkey being pelted with fruit by the children, while Painted Animal will laugh.
But Painted Animal then died as was the lot of mortals, and Monkey felt the urge to strike his name and those of Painted Animal's descendants away from the Book of Life and Death as he did for himself and his people ages ago. Yet the urge was soon washed away by the enlightenment and knowledge of the dharma, and Monkey content himself with the descendants of Painted animal when they made it a pilgrimage to see the Mad Monkey, to clear the weeds and dirt that threatened to bury his head. Monkey felt like the grand tombs of the Tang, waiting for pious descendants to descend on days to clean and pay homage to.
Painted Animals grandson didn't address him as Laughing Mad Monkey, for the screeching laugh of the trapped ape that drove away the enemies of his tribe stopped when his grandfather died. And as the Mad Monkey's howls faded in myth and memory, people from the mountains and plains to the west where the buffalo roamed arrived. From a weekly it became a monthly affair, until they visited during the dawn of a new year when it was coldest. The Monkey was no longer mad, but he wasn't wise for he spoke of places and spirits in impossible places. His children soon moaned and complained, of trekking through the barren mountain where only weeds, mud, rock and trees barren of fruit and poor wood grew. Time wasted when they could fish, hunt and make more children for the tribe.
For the children were dying, and soon the young, strong and old passed on as well. The Monkey saw what was happening and warned them, but his cries were carried into the wind with no answer.
And then just like the grand tombs of forgotten families in the Tang, Monkey was abandoned. In the moments before he felt another period of deep sleep descend upon him, Monkey's eyes burned bright as he saw far into the distance, to the village where Painted Animals descendants lived. Nothing of his human friends survived bar some homes half torn by the elements.
Monkey then slept once again, until one day he stirred at the presence of new people. Their clothes were made of hemp, leather and cotton like the people of the late Tang. Monkey saw the people of Xiyu in them, but they only saw the demons he used to hunt for sport and protection of his master. A few managed to find him, but none ever came back when the sight of the Monkey Demon scared them away. A monk with greyed red hair-like the people of Turfan-in black robes tried to exorcise him like some common spirit until he died of exposure and a cold. The new people stopped arriving altogether, and soon growing trees blocked off his valley from the rest of his mountain before he slept.
Until a violent storm a year ago ripped up the trees that hid Monkey from the outside world, and the friend who now trudges through the snow found him. His lips quivered in anticipation, and his golden eyes burned with a flame that turned the sleet on his head into steam when a thin man in a thick brown jacket and pants arrived at the entrance of his valley.
"Danny boy!" Monkey's voice thundered through the valley and the trees rustled, while Danny ran his idle hand over his shoulder length hair. "I thought you'd never arrive after you promised to arrive again last week."
"I can't be trekking three hours through Screeching Mountain to visit you everyday, Monkey," Danny said as he set out a dish and poured steaming white coffee from a flask. "Besides, you of all people should have known there's a blizzard blowing through. You warned me about it last week before I left with the medicine you gave me for my father."
Danny set the dish in front of Monkey, who sucked up the smoking drink in an instant. Monkey's burning eyes flared up at the sight of bright orange slices of fruit that tumbled out of a tumbler.
"Peaches!" Monkey screeched before he sucked in the damp fruit. "And so sweet!"
"Heard you mentioned you really missed them, so I made sure to bring the canned ones I found around this time when I came to visit you," Danny chuckled as he sat down cross-legged in front of Monkey on the snow. "So it's a gesture. Thanks for medicine that cured my dad's pneumonia, even if it's made of your spit and hair."
"Not a problem. Now do you believe I am who I said I am?"
"That you're some kind of god monkey born of a rock rather than a cape? Not much clues to search for who you're really are considering you don't even want to let me know your name, unless you really are called Monkey."
"My sworn brother who's the king of bull demons called me that!" Monkey declared proudly. "But my actual name won't be used until I break out of this mountain."
Danny's gaze followed Monkey's, as he gazed at the inscription and the paper charm that hung above him. Danny's eyes squinted, before he turned down to face Monkey.
"The charm and inscription. It's now only forty feet high."
"Forty?" Monkey snorted. "It's always been around twenty feet for me throughout all the years I've been trapped here. But at least you can see it now, so your karma's improving after ten visits to this place."
"My karma you said," Danny nodded and smiled. "The whole reason I found you after I got lost hiking, and then you blew me home safely with a single breath."
"Pretty much, yes." Monkey sighed before he gave a downtrodden look at Danny. "Not that you'd accumulate enough with me, since you're about to leave."
Danny remained silent, before he nodded his head.
"Very unusual, to be accepted at the start of November. You're certainly sanguine when I was planning to leave, Did it happen? With the Indian Painted Animal and his children?"
"Painted Animal's children's children to be specific, when they accompanied his grandson and thought I wasn't looking. At least you're not going to die on me."
"Thanks, Monkey. I promise to visit you whenever I'm on break from finishing school and college."
"Don't be promising things that'd harm ya, Danny boy," The woolly cap fell off Monkey's head when he shook it, revealing the golden headband to the sun. "Your father and you don't get along too well, putting it mildly. You go live a happy, fulfilling life and maybe I'd catch you seven incarnations down?"
"This karma thing," Danny's cheeks puffed as he bit sucked them in, before he started to brush Monkey's tangled fur. "Anger even against people who deserve it also detracts from it?"
"Kinda, though I'm not really the guy you ought to be consulting on this kind of thing. If all the rules were applied strictly to me for some of the shit I did in my wild days, I'd be condemned forever. Just take the time I peed into the Cauldron of Immortality after I swiped all the pills the Daode Tianzun was cultivating-"
"Wait. Back up. You what into a cauldron?"
"Peed into it," Rows of pearly white teeth peeked out from Monkey's lips, which sent a shiver up Danny's spine as he recalled what he learned about smiling apes. "Two centuries after that lesser deities were still complaining of the smell when they got their pills."
"I'm just glad your pills for my father didn't have any such pills then, Monkey," Danny said before he kept his brush and stood up, and human and ape exchanged glances. Danny lost himself in the golden flames that flickered in Monkey's eyes, ancient and piercing before he slung his backpack across his shoulders.
"Look, I promise you. No matter what happens, so long as you're trapped beneath Screeching Mountain me and my descendants will never forget you or leave you alone."
Daniel Hebert suddenly felt his knees give way and the sudden onset of vertigo when he slumped to the rock laden snow. Monkey's golden headband burned like molten steel, and Danny clutched his chest at a sudden burst of heat before it vanished. He stared at Monkey, who's face had excised all hints of mischief so inherent to the stone ape.
"Then I also promise you. Should you or anyone born of your seed ever manage to free me from the mountain, I shall serve him or her as loyally I did my previous master on the pilgrimage to the west, with the golden headband on my head as witness."
The molten glow on the headband vanished, with only dull almost rusted yellow metal left behind. Danny ears were accustomed to the ambient sounds of the mountain by now, whether the scurrying pitter patter of the squirrel and gliding of the snake in spring, or the fall of snow from a broken tree branch in winter. But all he heard now was his own heartbeat and breathing, while the smell of burnt hair and metal reminded him of what he just saw.
"Go in peace, Danny boy. We'll meet again, if our fates will it."
Danny's eyes narrowed.
"You never told me you were a believer in fates?"
Monkey bared his teeth while his eyes trailed upwards, to the hated words that trapped him beneath.
So Monkey waited, and as the snow thawed while the sound of spring woke him from a years long sleep Danny returned with a woman in tow. The woman was tall and willowy, with black long curly hair up to her hips. The jacket she wore appeared almost too large for her and hugged her like a blanket, while her knee length boots sunk into the mud as she squatted to get a closer look at Monkey. Monkey could smell a mated pair, but even without his nose their mutual affection was clear.
"Monkey," Danny's once boyish chin had grown a manly stubble and age, but his once flowing hair was now only to his neck. "Meet Annette, my girlfriend and hopefully fiance."
"I know. I heard you when those noise making cars of yours were miles away from the mountain. Between you and those people down valley building something by the lake, this was the noisiest hibernation I've ever been in." Monkey hissed as Annette reached out gingerly with a finger, but she paused momentarily at the noise that sent every bird on the mountain scattering before she began to scratch Monkey's nose.
"No you won't. You're vegetarian."
"I just won't swallow. Doesn't count if I'm not eating the meat."
Annette frowned, before she turned to Danny.
"You know, Danny. If I hadn't heard from you Monkey was a cape that claims to be an asexual ape born from a rock, I'd swear he was trying to get fresh with me."
"Hey, I'm not some rag you throw over your shoulder!"
Danny ignored Monkey as he sighed, before he helped Annette to her feet.
"We've been through this, Annette. Oral records from the time of the extinct Indian tribes that once roamed here had ever found this valley until the Monkey allows it. The mountain remains, but the valley seemingly disappears throughout the decades."
"Don't tell me you actually believe what a strange parahuman is saying, Danny," Annette frowned. "Even now there's been reports of parahumans who're not all there mentally."
"I first met him years before Scion's first sighting, Anne. "
"Scion being the source of all capes is just an unproven rumor, Danny. Your discovery merely backdates the proven existence of parahumanity and-"
Both humans screamed and dropped to the floor cupping their ears as Monkey emitted a ear-piercing screech that shook the ground. Monkey looked at Danny, his head shaking as much as the rock allowed him to.
"Danny boy, I fear for your children if this shrew is going to raise your spawn. Trust your elders when I say I've met women like her all too often."
"So the delusional mountain cape is a sexist despite having a vocabulary," Annette said while she struggled to her feet. " Charming."
"Girl, show some respect and believe me when I say I'm older than the country your country is descended from," Annette glowered at Monkey, but kept silent as he puffed his cheeks before he slowly deflated them when she remained silent.
"In any case, the promise still holds. If you marry Danny boy and pop out a kid and free me before Danny does, he gets my protection and service as long as he breathes."
Annette scowled, but looked back when she felt Danny's hand over her own.
"Annette, let's just let it go and respect Monkey's wishes."
The years passed, and Monkey watched as the Heberts got married while he continued the verbal sparring with Annette. The Heberts even had a wedding photo shoot within the valley, and placed the developed photograph in front of him within a sturdy plastic frame along with a radio so he could have something to do between his hibernation periods.
Then the visits became an almost annual affair, and Monkey laughed in delight even as their new daughter Taylor grew from a baby pulling at his hair while Annette looked on horrified to a young girl who read to him her stories. Taylor grew older, and began to read to him not just her stories in books, but also news reports of events around the world when she grew older. The news bored him, but Monkey smiled and nodded as the growing girl read to him with her parents looking on in pride. Then one day, as Taylor grew from a child into a young lady bordering on adulthood an event happened that reignited in Monkey the hope he might be free.
It was early afternoon and Taylor spoke animatedly, her words and sentences flowed like the raging waves of the sea that divided the Lord Buddha's temple from the profane world when she yelped and jumped away from the rocky surface of the mountain. Monkey spun around and raised his head, and spat out a cherry's pit at the snake that crawled up hidden in the shade of the overhanging above Taylor. The seed split it cleanly in two while the surface of the rock cracked when the pit dug into the side of the mountain. Taylor breathed deeply while she shook, before her eyes focused on the snake as she leaned in closer towards the head of the snake.
"Careful. Some of them can still bite even after they're dead."
"I know this type of snake," Taylor wiped away the sweat on her brow, "It's not venomous."
"You could have been allergic, and you parents would have been one kid short after trusting you to visit me by yourself."
"Oh, they've no idea I'm here, Monkey," Taylor said without a care in the world as she shone her flashlight at the bloodstained spot where the snake had crawled on. "I'm just here for the orientation at the camp near the lake down valley from here before I enroll next year for summer. Was supposed to attend a tour for us potential attendees while the parents were briefed elsewhere, but I sneaked out."
"Wow," Monkey said flatly. "You sure your battleax of a mother isn't going to skin you alive if she catches you sneaking out while they're distracted."
"Mom's kind of a radical in her feminism back in the day from what Dad told me, but she usually ranted on how much of a misogynistic pig you are as the ur-example when she meets someone really obnoxious. She rated how bad a man was by how many Monkeys they were. Five was the worst."
"She really should meet my brother Bajie sometime," Monkey chuckled. "How many Monkeys does she rate me?"
"Seven," Taylor took out a handkerchief and wiped at the blood,her eyes fixed on the lines. "She considered the part of you stuck in the mountain and tail as two other monkeys."
"Actually, there's like seventy-two of me," Monkey stared at Taylor while she spread out her pink handkerchief and pressed against the bloodstained side of the mountain. "What are you doing?"
"Making an imprint, by using the blood as ink and pressing against the carvings on the wall. "
Monkey heard his heart pound against in his ears, as Taylor knelt down and spread out the bloodstained cloth. The words formed by the patches of pink against red had already long ago been carved onto his heart. Monkey's manic grin matched Taylor's own when they saw eye to eye.
"Do you see the paper charm, Taylor?"
"Yes," Taylor licked her dry lips. "Just inches away from me. If I tip toe I can reach it."
"Well then. Do it."
When Danny and Annette found their daughter three hours later, she sat on the floor, cross legged and downcast while Monkey's eyes were shut in bitter disappointment.
I counted down to the minutes till lights out on the second night of summer camp, having studied the patrol routes and schedules of the camp staff during my first night. I was familiar with the area, much more than anyone else here since It was only less than five miles north of Dad's childhood home and I've been traveling here since I could walk. On cloudy nights like this, I can even predict how and when the clouds will block out the moon to give me ample cover to go below the fence and into Screeching Mountain. I rolled out of bed and landed softly on the floor with my quilt to break any noise, dressed in a hoodie and a pair of trekking khakis over my track paints. As the moon hid behind the clouds I dashed into the temporary darkness between the lamps in camp before I leaped to the top of the fence, up and out of the grounds. The wind stirred as I predicted and the leafy undergrowth stirred nosily to provide cover when I landed outside.
I couldn't use a flashlight this close to the fence without risk of being spotted, but the faint light provided by the few stars that peaked out behind the clouds were sufficient for me to navigate into familiar paths that led to the valley.
Last year, after the first failed attempt to release Monkey I had developed a habit of speaking to myself incessantly while making my way into the valley where Monkey was. I tried another eight times, before I was dragged back to Brockton Bay. My parents were getting worried, and told me that I could try again next year when I came to the camp proper.
This time round, Dad's too busy losing himself dealing with Mom's death so both my parents weren't around to stop or assist me. Instead of rambling on what to say when I met Monkey, I only heard my sneakers crunch against branches and dust as I ran through the familiarly treacherous path to the valley. I saw his eyes long before I saw the entrance to that valley, a pair of mini suns that burnt brightly in the darkness. The founding of the CUI and the subsequent deluge in Asian literature had shed new light on Monkey's claims.
Mom was adamant he was a deranged cape, but If Monkey is indeed who he has hinted to be...
"Taylor," Monkey said, all traces humor and levity gone from his voice. "I know that look. Danny? Annette? Both? Or did you somehow burst your way out of the netherworld?"
"Mom's dead. Car accident."
My eyes quickly found the charm, the rectangle piece of brown paper still as fresh and unsullied as the time I first saw it eleven years ago. The lower half of the charm dangled an inch above Monkey's headband, teasing him with freedom. I could almost smell the snakes blood mingled with my handkerchief. My fingers dug into the top edge of the paper, and the world shook as it inched away from the rock of Screeching Mountain.
"So you can already know what I want. Does your promise still hold?"
"My old master was completely devoted to the idea of pursuing Enlightenment and bringing it to the masses, so something like this never crossed his mind."
"But yes, I'll do it for you just as I would have done it for him," Monkey's golden headband smoked and glowed, while he hissed in pain as it contracted into his skull. "Now hurry, this thing knows what's going on and it's going to extract it's pound of flesh."
With a flick of my fingers, the charm came off. Screeching Mountain was no more.
Lao of the Azn Bad Boyz, the original and the later bastardized chimera it became under Lung could not believe his luck. In every sense of the word.
At first it seemed like a jackpot. A young, pretty white bitch with some useless nerd of a father who was easily subdued to be later thrown into the Bay, while the pretty white bitch can be sampled before set to work in another city far away for a handsome price. It was like New Years Day and Qing Ming had come together.
Not that the two festivals ever did, and if it did Lao'd tell his ancestors that Qing Ming or no they can stay dead in their tombs which he can't be bothered to locate anyway. And when that redheaded white bitch fought back, Lao got excited since it meant he can show of to the Boyz how to handle the unruly merchandise without using drugs like some degenerate Merchant. This way, he can make pimp or even trainer. And Lao was glad, for he was a gangster with aspirations.
But then the ground opened up, and Lao swore he heard his long deceased first wife who fell off the last boat leaving Hong Kong when he pushed her before a naked monkey popped out of it swearing about reincarnation schedules. Monkeys were by definition naked, and it should have been redundant to mention the unclothed state of any simian.
But most monkeys didn't have fireballs for eyes, wear golden headbands or rest a staff made of red and gold iron on their shoulders. The rest of the ABB gathered, a proud outstanding crew of murderers, racketeers,, thugs and bootleggers stood frozen before they shivered when the monkey's glare ran over them. Lao swore loudly and colorfully in his native Cantonese when the monkey locked gazes with him and smiled.
Of course, Lao had worked in a restaurant that served monkey back home, and the first thing the chef told him about monkeys was when they smiled with teeth apart they weren't actually smiling.
"Hey, someone who speaks my language," the monkey drawled while he tilted his head forward slightly. "It's like I'm home in Changan! So you know what I'm saying when I tell you to release the young lady you're holding right?"
"Yes. The same girl whom you punched as I was breaking out of Hell, and whose clothes your hands are currently trying to rip apart. Hands off."
Lao hesitated, before he squeaked and leapt backwards from the girl when the monkey sighed. The monkey flashed a thumbs up sign when Lao and the rest of the ABB dropped their ill-gotten gains and raised their arms into the air. Emma clutched her torn shirt together as she stumbled towards her savior along with her father, and stood behind the monkey.
"Hi Emma," Monkey winked. "Taylor told me all about you."
Emma drew a sharp breath, while Alan stared at his daughter confused when she returned a smile with her bruised and cut lips.
"You're Monkey," Emma's smile turned dark as her mind calmed from the fear and adrenaline. "You're S-"
"Wow!" Monkey pressed a finger against Emma's lips. "Not so fast."
Monkey pointed the tip of his staff at Lao, who dropped to his knees.
"Great Sage! Mercy!"
"So you know who I am?"
"Of course! Who doesn't know of the Great Sage Equal to Heaven, Sun Wukong!"
Wukong turned away from the trembling form of Lao towards Emma, before he plucked out a handful of hair from his right arm.
"While I would love to serve up some justice of my own, I am supposed to be repenting for some mistakes I've made in Paradise, so will you be so kind and use one of those cellphones to call what passes for law enforcement here?"
Emma's smile faltered, but nodded while Alan began to dial emergency lines. Sun Wukong's smile in contrast got wider, as he brought up the fistful of fur to his face.
"That said, wanna see a magic trick?"
The fur scattered across the alley when Wukong blew, and monkeys from the size of a child to great apes crowded the place and bared their teeth at the ABB.
"Meet my children, the monkeys of my mountain. Each of them as immortal as I, and so, so, frustrated after close to six hundred years of doing squat!"
Emma clung closer to to Wukong's arm, and wandered if she wanted to see what's coming.
"They also happen to see, and smell what I've seen and smell. And boy do some of you reek!"
Wukong stuck his staff into the ground, and leaned against it as the monkeys closed in.
"Have fun! Just make sure they're alive and in one piece for the locals to collect!"