MONKEY IN A BOTTLE
By: Insomnia's Child
SUMMARY: Prince Genjo Sanzo had everything a man could ever wish for; good looks, fame and fortune. So what will he do when he and his right hand man, Sha Gojyo, and the royal family's advisor, Cho Hakkai, finds a bottle housing an equally hyper active genie named Son Goku?
CHAPTER 1: Stolen Bottle
This is the training room. In here, you will find all kinds of weapons that might have dated back to as long as the 11th century. The walls are decorated with intricate designs, as was the rest of the palace, and a few ornaments were hung here and there, but not too much for the fear of being broken. Often when one passes by here, the only thing that could be heard is the clinking of swords, which became a melody in itself and a sound that became too familiar for the occupants of the palace. However, this was not the only reason people frequently stop by, for the training room enclosed a view far more attractive than the famed deserts, gargantuan mountains and wonderful sunset found in the illustrious city of Chang'An, capital of the Tougenkyo Kingdom.
"You lose. Again."
This is Prince Genjo Sanzo, dressed in his usual attire - silver vest and pants made of the finest silk, adorned with jewels, with pointed ruby slippers. He was in the training room, as always, pointing his sword at an opponent's neck, victory evident in his angled face. In case no one knows, he is the only nephew of the great Queen Kanzeon, wife of the Sultan Jiroushin; and only heir to the Tougenkyo Kingdom. Many might be familiar with him, since he wasn't your average ordinary prince. He was one who defied almost all the rules, cursed like a sailor, even in front of royalty, and have never considered Allah, or anyone, for that matter, as his God, which was an insult itself to his people. So naturally, many of the people, mostly rebels and Muslim priests, did not want him to be the Kingdom's future ruler, wondering what would become of them if they had a Sultan who could not serve as a good example for everybody. Some had even gone as far as to try to ambush him, but fortunately, the Prince was a master when it came to swords so no one could have touched even a single hair of his.
"Aren't I generous today?"
This one, on the other hand, is Sha Gojyo, a man on his twenties, who had been serving as the Prince's right hand man ever since he was young. Long mane of red hair hung loosely on his back and his eyes were an eerie color that could've been mistaken for red. A careless observer would have also missed the two long lines of scars that decorated his left cheek, which was a very painful reminder of his dark past that continually haunted him every night. His famous hobbies, on the other hand, contained chasing after women and drinking wine. He was dressed in blue robes much simpler than the Prince's, but elegant nonetheless. His sword, which he held seconds ago, was now lying on the floor, a few inches from his feet.
"You mean to say, you've been generous with me for the past few years?" Prince Sanzo drawled as he sheathed his sword. He stood smirking, which was indeed a sight, since he was normally seen wearing a scowl on his face or terrorizing the poor palace servants. The only times he was in a less-than bad mood is when he beats a worthy opponent in sword fighting, which just so happens to be Gojyo, the only one who didn't flinch at the sight of him.
The mentioned right hand man, Gojyo, flashed him a grin as he reached back for his sword. "You're forgetting I beat you before, O Royal One," he told the Prince.
Prince Sanzo's smirk deepened. "Oh, are you referring to that contest we had when we were six? My, that does seem like such a long time, no wonder I couldn't remember it very well."
"Fine. So you excel in sword fighting. But don't let your ego get the better of you, Your Highness," Gojyo spoke the last two words with as much sarcasm as he could, "because this very man in front of you is the unbeatable champion of the whole Tougenkyo when it comes to hand-to-hand combat."
The prince rolled his eyes. "Arrogant man. That's because you always cheat."
"Cheat? I'm not a slimy, sneaky prince like you!"
"Tell that to me again and you die."
Anyone unfortunate enough to have witnessed this scene would've thought they were about to kill each other, what with Sanzo's low, threatening growl and Gojyo's teasing grin. But in fact, this was just another way of saying things were alright between the two of them. There's no concrete explanation, because to do so is like saying you know the reason cats hate dogs and vice versa. On the other hand, when they aren't talking or arguing, then start to worry about what's wrong.
"You've told that to me a thousand times, but here I am, still alive and breathing," the tanned man said.
"Humph. You're lucky I have a lot of patience."
"Patience? You mean the patience of a child?"
Sanzo gritted his teeth. "Just shut up and don't raise your voice. That annoying old woman might hear you again and find out where I am." Of course, by "annoying old woman", he was referring to Queen Kanzeon. That name was widely known around the palace and was spoken by servants and guards in whispers, yet the Prince was the only living creature who got away with calling her that in public. In fact, the Queen once told him that she found it all very amusing. It was very ironic, that intense dislike Sanzo had with his aunt, since almost everyone would have given up anything just to be a blood relative of Her Majesty herself.
"Oh, that's right. Forgive me for forgetting. You simply don't want the likes of her to further damage your already fading sanity."
If looks could kill, Gojyo could've been lying on the grand floor a long time ago. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Although the way Prince Sanzo spoke almost did the trick. "What do you mean, my already fading sanity?"
"You're still in denial?"
"Shut up or I'll slit your throat!"
Gojyo mockingly shook his head in sympathy. "Such strong words, Your Highness…" If there was one person in the kingdom who calls the Prince respectfully yet still manages to show his sarcasm, that could be none other than Gojyo. Sanzo ought to have hated him for his impudence, but it had the opposite effect, for this is what made him tolerate Gojyo more than the others.
"Now, now, are you two fighting again?"
Both turned their heads at the familiar voice. Now let me introduce to you the most trusted royal advisor, Cho Hakkai. He was a brunette the same age as Gojyo, whose brilliant green eyes sparkled with something that could only be wisdom. In fact, his intelligence was not only widely known in Tougenkyo, but in other kingdoms as well. Aside from his politeness and gentleness, this man is very well respected because he is the only one, and I mean the only one, who could make the Prince calm down during another one of his fits. And supposing that this habit of his became a daily occurrence, you must realize how grateful the people are to said fellow, Hakkai. He was also reportedly been the recent target for rumors that concerned his dead lover who was the daughter of one of the most prominent clans in the Kingdom, a certain girl named Kanan. No one knows for sure whether those rumors about him were true, but some were certain that Prince Sanzo and his right hand man Gojyo, who were often the advisor's companions, knew something about the matter.
"Why don't you ask our favorite Prince, eh?" was Gojyo's only reply.
"Let's not get all angry. After all, I bear grave news for Sanzo from Her Majesty herself," Cho Hakkai said, his gaze immediately turning to the Prince, who was sporting one of his looks that said "I don't like where this is coming".
"And what could be possibly worse than forcing me to another boring worship for their God?"
Hakkai smiled. "Forcing you to chose your bride," he said, amusement evident in his voice once he caught sight of Sanzo's reaction.
"Holy camel! Why that old wretched woman…" Prince Sanzo exclaimed angrily, his eyes narrowing. He had never looked this dangerous before. Hakkai immediately felt sorry in advance for Queen Kanzeon.
"In fact, she's looking for you right now. The Queen wants you to meet another princess from the kingdom of Agrahba. I heard she is quite lovely," Hakkai added, which, unfortunately, only made Sanzo's now awful mood worse.
"Why, I wish I was as lucky as you! What did you ever do to deserve this anyway?" Gojyo told the Prince, which wasn't helping him any better.
"Do you want me to feed you to the lions or will you shut up?" Sanzo growled.
Gojyo grinned. "There are no lions in Tougenkyo," he reasoned. Then he further inspected the Prince. Still looking at him, he said, "Only a certain old, wrinkled prince…"
Hakkai laughed nervously at the deadly look coming from Sanzo that might otherwise have poisoned Gojyo. "What shall we do?" he questioned His Highness.
Prince Sanzo glanced back at Hakkai. "The usual. Inform the others and prepare the camels," was his only remark.
"Of course. And what shall I tell Her Majesty?"
Sanzo rolled his eyes and sighed. "Use your imagination."
"As you wish," Hakkai said, smiling, and with the most abbreviated of bows, strode out of the room, his footsteps echoing throughout the walls.
"Oh, that's real good. Perfect timing. My stomach just screams 'Wine!'" Gojyo exclaimed as he rubbed his belly. "And I can't wait to see all those pretty girls!"
The Prince wrinkled his nose, not bothering to hide his disgust. "You are such a pig," he muttered under his breath as he grabbed their cloaks.
"Better a pig than you."
"Ouch! You're stepping on my hand, you withering excuse for a prince! Get your foot off me!"
"There isn't that much space! I couldn't see a thing in this darkness. And pipe down, will you!"
"I can see your royal advisor's face smiling, Hakkai. How would you like me to step on you?"
"I swear your eyes are like that of an owl's, Gojyo."
"His looks, too."
"What was that!"
"Oh, look, we're almost there."
A few crawls were all it took before the tall figures of Gojyo, Sanzo and Hakkai emerged slowly, one by one, from a tunnel in the ground, big enough for one person to crawl onto. It was this secret escape tunnel that Sanzo and Gojyo had discovered a while back in their childhood years, and had been a big help to them whenever they wanted to escape the palace life and its people. No one, not even the Queen and King, knew of this secret exit. The moment the maids discover they were missing again, they would be long gone, having real fun with real people and not some stuck up royalty. And today was another one of those nights.
Gojyo carefully closed the tunnel and covered it with leaves and soil, but hardly anyone took notice of it anyway. "I don't want to imagine what the Queen will say when you get back," he told Prince Sanzo.
"You'll be in real big trouble, you know that?"
Hakkai quietly led them toward a dark corner where three camels were waiting side by side. He untied the ropes connecting the camel to the nearby tree and expertly climbed onto its back. Behind him, Sanzo and Gojyo did the same. And the threesome rode off into the black, star-filled night of Tougenkyo.
"Wine! Wine! Wine! Wine!"
"How's it going?"
"Listen, everyone, I'm going to sing! Theeeeeeeee blaaaack camel raaaaaaaan awaaaaay…"
"Who wants to beat me at arm wrestling?"
"Are you ladies all available?"
This is only one of the many taverns situated in the streets of Chang'An. People come here to create trouble, watch fights, grab girls, or just get plain drunk. The smell of rum and the never ending supply of laughter were so overpowering, and in every corner of the room there are all kinds of activities going on. People of all walks of lives come and go here, sailors, travelers, merchants, gypsies, dancers, sometimes even rich people who are looking for different forms of entertainment. But this tavern is much more than that, for it also doubled as the number one headquarters for the most popular thieves. In fact, the owner of the tavern is a thief himself.
Amidst all the chaos, a red haired girl with tanned skin was sitting on the farthest corner of the bar, wearing a short top that reached her midriff and trousers that were wide but close at the ankle, made of poor quality that looked worn, with no jewelry whatsoever. She was a rather short woman for her age, and looked nothing like the sort of person who would hang out at places like this, but she was a special case. For one thing, this girl's name is Lirin, one that had been famous all throughout the city. And for another, she had Kougaiji for a brother. Now, it is imperative to know this Kougaiji fellow since he plays a major role in this story, so let me do the talking. Kougaiji is a poor orphan turned King, or rather, Prince of the Thieves. There aren't just one kind of thieves, but two; a bad and a nice thief. Kougaiji is an example of the latter. He never steals from people poorer, younger and older than him, which goes to say that even thieves have their code of honor. But because a thief is still a thief, he had been hunted down by the authorities more times than you can imagine, and it was his quick wits and skills that always save him every time. Now back to Lirin. Being a thief's brother, you can very well imagine what her chosen profession is. As they say, same feathers stick together…
"What is it, Yaone?"
The purple-haired woman standing in front of Lirin is Yaone, otherwise known as, you guessed it, another thief and one of Kougaiji's subordinates. She, too, was clad in an ensemble a little similar like Lirin's, although much more modest, and her long her was tied in high pigtails. Part of her face was also covered by a white veil. Bowing, she said, "There are people looking for you outside."
"But I'm busy eating!" Lirin whined, looking longingly at her half finished apple that she had smuggled at the marketplace a while ago.
"But Miss Lirin…"
"Fine, fine. I'm coming!" Lirin energetically hopped off her stool and followed her companion out of the tavern and towards the direction of three men. When she looked closer, she couldn't see their faces, for they were all covered in white cloaks.
Peering at them like some rare specimen, she asked, "Who are you?"
One of the men lowered his cloak, only to reveal red hair and tanned face. "It's us," he whispered.
Lirin's eyes widened and a grin escaped her face. "Aha! Sanzo and the gang!" she shouted.
"Shh! Not so loud!"
"Sorry," Lirin said. "What are you guys doing here?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Prince Sanzo drawled.
"No, it's not. Now will you please tell me?" Lirin pressed on.
"Look, we just came for a visit. Now can we please go inside so I can get taste my first glass of wine?" Gojyo said impatiently.
"Alright, alright. I'll teach you royalty to have some real fun," Lirin replied as she led the group into another area almost hidden beside the tavern, where a wooden door bearing a crescent, the symbol for the infamous thieves, stood tightly shut. She knocked three times, and a peephole on the door slid open.
"Who is it?" asked a man inside.
"It's me, Lirin. Yaone is with me. I've brought in Sanzo and the others," Lirin whispered as she tapped her foot impatiently.
They all heard the loud unlocking noise and a moment after, the door slid open and a tall, well-built man ushered them inside. "Hurry, hurry please."
Gojyo took the time in surveying the room. It was small and the only light came from several candles positioned in different places. The chairs were a bit dusty, and you could see hints of cobwebs hanging in some parts of the ceiling. He frowned. "This is no tavern," he said. He glared at Lirin. "I thought you're bringing me to where the ladies and the wine are?"
Lirin blinked innocently. "Oh, did I? But I'm going to tell you top secret information! Aren't you the least bit interested?" she told him, pouting.
Prince Sanzo narrowed his eyes. "What do you mean, top secret information?" he repeated, not liking what was to happen.
Lirin grinned as she relaxed on her chair. "We're having a great looting session tomorrow morning at the marketplace and Brother wants you to join us," she explained.
Hakkai blinked. "You and Kougaiji are asking us to steal?"
"Aw, c'mon! It would be fun! We had you all covered up so no one will even recognize you. Besides, you know better than to refuse a favor from Brother," Lirin replied, grinning.
Gojyo laughed. "Do you actually want to know what the elders will say once they found out the great Prince Sanzo will be stealing from his own kingdom?" he told Sanzo.
"They'd be beyond mortified," Sanzo agreed.
"But I still don't think…" Hakkai, who was a man with honor, protested.
"Oh, to hell with your moral values!" the Prince said. "Hakkai, what do I have for tomorrow?"
Hakkai, who had memorized Sanzo's schedule to heart, didn't even need to think. "Your usual Prince lessons. Oh, and Lady Gyokumen Koushu will also be coming over for another tea session with the Queen," he said tonelessly.
Sanzo scowled. More than anything, he hated Gyokumen. She was another one of those stuck-up, filthy rich people and was a friend of his aunt. It was a wonder how the Queen could even stand talking to her, for she was known not for her money, but for the cruel ways she treats people. And whenever Lady Gyokumen visits the palace, she always makes it a point to have another talk with the Prince about one thing or another, things that don't concern Sanzo in any way, not to mention, she had an odd fascination with his golden locks, and likes to ruffle it as if Sanzo was a dog, which only made his mood worse and his blood boil.
"Gyokumen? Oh, really?" All of a sudden, Lirin started laughing really hard and came to explain to them about another one of her fun escapades wherein she, with the aid of Yaone and several others, stole quite a big sum of amount from the Lady herself. In fact, if there was anybody who hunted the famous thieves more than the establishment, it would be Gyokumen.
"That was wicked!" Gojyo finally said after Lirin ended her funny story. "I certainly want to try something like that, so what do you say, Your Highness? Shall we join these bandits? Whatever would they be without us?"
Sanzo considered the thought for awhile. It also helped that the image of Gyokumen Koushu, holding a cup of tea and chatting with the Queen, kept popping in his head, it made his stomach sick. "Consider it done," he finally said, ignoring Lirin's loud squeals of "Yahoo!"
"Apples! Try our delicious apples!"
"Kind sir, perhaps you would like this carpet?"
"That would be thirty gold coins, madam!"
"Thank you for coming! Come back next time!"
This is Chang'An's large marketplace, where food and clothing are great business for thriving merchants and where money is at its most. The people of Tougenkyo are a busy lot, so you could hardly see anyone doing nothing. This is where tourists and locals alike shop, but beneath the noisy atmosphere, there is a lot more activity going on. Dirty work that would later cost certain people a lot…
"This is ridiculous!" A certain redhead covered in a thick cloak whispered to his two companions, both dressed like him, with black mustaches on their faces. They were walking slowly, occasionally stopping by to look at all the goods the market has to offer.
"Yes. You especially look like an idiot," the other man whispered back.
"Hey!" the latter complained. "You look more of a fool than me!"
"Shut up, you stingy bug!"
"Bug! What the camel was that!"
"What? Can't think of better insults?"
"I could ask the same of you, you wrinkled, pompous one!"
"Please, let's not fight. Or are you forgetting the real reason we're here?" It was a
different voice who talked this time, one that was much calmer than the other two.
"How could I forget?" Gojyo said, snorting.
"Yes, yes. We are to wait for Lirin's signal, and then she starts conversing with that merchant over there and distract him enough for us to do the stealing," Sanzo recited as if he had just read those lines from a book.
"In short, if we screw this up, we're history. I mean, Lirin and her bandits will be history."
Hakkai chuckled. "That's right! Now don't be too obvious or else we'll get caught…" He squinted as he caught sight of a red flag being raised a couple of feet from them. No one would make such a bold move but those thieves themselves. "I believe that's our cue. Let's get this thing started then."
He and the others watched as they caught sight of Lirin's small form, together with Yaone's, and the man whom they had met yesterday, walk towards the direction of their assigned merchant, who was a fat man with long beard, and immediately began conversing with him about the durability of his wares.
"Ahh, but I believe the price you are offering is too high. This pendant doesn't even look like real gold, isn't it?"
"Oh, but miss, it is real gold! Imported, this one is! It even came from as far as the land of Arim! You can test it out for yourself, if you want!"
"I'm not too sure..."
"Very well, I'm going to make a last offer. Three hundred gold coins for this one, I'll give you. That's the lowest price you can get."
"My companion thinks it's still too high. How about two hundred coins for that one?"
"Oh, no no no no no, sir! I cannot give it with such a low price! Bad for business, sir!"
By this time, Sanzo and the others had hid near a big jar, quietly filling their bags with all of the merchant's goods, which consisted mostly of gold antiques and imported stuff.
Suddenly, the Prince stopped in his tracks. He gritted his teeth and turned to Gojyo, who was busy with his own thing. "What?" he replied, annoyed.
Gojyo looked up at him in puzzlement. "What what?" he asked.
"What do you mean, what what?" Sanzo said irritably.
"You were calling me a while ago!" he replied through gritted teeth.
"You liar! I heard you…"
"There it was again!" Sanzo said. "Wait…if you're not the one calling me, then who…" He glanced at what remained of the merchant's goods. Positioned on the top shelf was a bottle, dark in color so you couldn't see if it's empty or not.
"What, Hakkai?" the Prince said.
"Yes, Your Majesty?" Hakkai, who was a good inches away from him, asked politely.
Sanzo looked at him squarely in the eye. "You were calling me, weren't you?"
"Why no," Hakkai replied. "Are you alright, Sanzo?"
"Yes, yes, I'm fine." But the Prince's brow was furrowed. Was he hearing things? But no…he heard it again.
The voice was getting louder and louder and Sanzo was getting more and more annoyed. But what truly bothered him was the fact that the voice seemed to be coming from that bottle. Unless Gojyo was right and he was truly becoming crazy…He slowly picked it up and examined it. "A voice…In the bottle…" he muttered to himself.
Gojyo was still looking at him incredulously. "Has all the heat been affecting that demented brain of yours?" he guessed.
"Shut up! I'm trying to listen…"
"Listen carefully, you stupid roach! There! Can't you hear?" Sanzo hissed as he pressed the bottle forcefully to Gojyo's ear.
"Hear what!" Gojyo exclaimed as he pushed Sanzo's hand away. Then he stared at the bottle. "Oh, good, you scored wine! Didn't know that droopy eyes of yours could be of use…"
"Are you picking a fight with me!"
"Look, just stop convincing me about your crazy hallucinations!"
"Hallucinations! I am not hallucinating!"
"Then what do you call the scene you're making?"
"Is it my fault that you're deaf?"
"Guys…" Hakkai warned.
The others pretended they didn't hear him and continued arguing. In fact, their voices seemed to grow louder and louder with each passing minute and Hakkai could do nothing as the situation worsened.
But it was too late. The merchant stopped his conversation with Lirin and the others, only to look at them. They had succeeded in getting his attention. His eyes traveled to them and to the open bags they're carrying. Well, you could only guess what happened next.
"You thieves! Come back here!" the merchant shouted, raising his fist in the air as he watched Gojyo, Hakkai and Sanzo run for their lives, along with Lirin and the rest of the gang. "Somebody catch those lowly thieves!"
"Bye bye, you old loony!" Lirin shouted, sticking out her tongue at him.
"Yeah! And thanks for all your gifts!" Gojyo exclaimed.
"At last, this whole annoying thing is over," Sanzo mumbled, sighing, as a certain bottle inside his half open bag glinted dangerously in the sunlight.
Oh, he has no idea, for the worst thing has yet to come. And Sanzo, I bet, would not be ready when it appears…
Next up on Monkey in A Bottle (Chapter 2: The Boy Who Screamed Food):
Sanzo and the others open the bottle and finds, surprise, surprise, the genie Goku! And, what's this? He doesn't grant wishes the usual way! And Hakkai takes on a new pet who transforms into a magic carpet…Expect to find humor in this chapter…
AN: I apologize for my writing style that's a bit rusty, for I haven't written a fanfiction in years, so please, bear with me. Suggestions, comments, and even flames are very much welcome. Please review and let me know what you think of this fic. Thanks:D