Dogs, Women and Outlanders
A Story Of The Jade Empire
Things have always been very hard for me because people say I don't know anything because I didn't listen to my tutors and was only ever interested in girls well they don't know anything about me, how would they? They don't know anything. What is there to know about life? Silver is good, wine is good, women are good, and a man who beats a dog is the lowest kind of man. When life is so simple, who needs learning to muddle it up? I always treat animals with respect, they are our brothers, after all, we are all together under heaven and we live by the same laws, we bleed when you cut us, we die when it is our time, and any man or even woman who mistreats an animal, I have no respect for them.
Now, I wanted to have a grand adventure across the Empire and make a lot of money by beating up bandits and stealing the treasure of demons but there was a problem. I didn't know any kung fu. I didn't know anything, but people who know things make life such a muddle. I was lamenting to my brother. "How can I steal treasure from evil people and save the Empire and get girls when I don't know any kung fu?"
"You could take along a companion. There's someone in our very family that is a renowned master of fighting of some kind or another."
"What? Our wheedling family of cowardly fools? Who?" I said.
"Why, our brother in law, Hou." said my brother.
Everyone was always afraid of my sister, I did not know why, but regardless of the reason, this Hou fellow had swept her off her feet, so I heard, and was now lording it over her and bossing her around so much that all the villagers called him Dictator Hou. Well, I would straighten him out! I had seen him at a family feast and while he might have been strong enough to push around a woman, he had not seen the likes of me!
I traveled down the river to visit him. He was in the alleyway behind his house.
"Hou!" I shouted, pushing his skinny body against the wall and laughing when he fell. You had to be tough with these kung fu types or else they wouldn't respect you.
"Oh my!" he said with surprise. "Hello, brother-in-law."
"You must come with me on a..."
"Oh, come with you? Certainly, if I must. Is now too soon to leave?" He leapt back up to his feet. Ha! Already he was my servant, bowing and scraping and we had just begun on our journey! Someone inside his shop was yelling, she seemed agitated, but that's always the way it is with women, yelling and yelling. I pay them no attention.
Soon outside of town we were set upon by pike-wielding bandits. "Get them, Hou!" I shouted.
"Oh, but I have promised my sweet wife that I would never use my drunken fighting talents..." said Hou.
"Drunken fighting?" I said. "Nobody told me you had such a worthless skill!" The bandits took all our money and left us tied to a tree in the forest. I argued with Hou for a long time over whether he would at the very least teach me the secrets of drunken fighting. He said that it was very complicated and I eventually lost interest in what he was saying and fell asleep. When I woke up, he had managed to slide his skinny arms out and was untying us. "Why didn't you do it sooner, oaf?" I demanded, and slapped him on the head, he scuttled away.
"Well, what are we going to do about fighting if you won't fight?" I said.
"Clearly you need a mystic scroll," said Hou. "A customer in my bun shop told me of a mysterious scroll that would grant its user the ability to use the Wolf's Spin of the Unknown Mask."
"I hate reading scrolls." I insisted.
"You don't have to read it, you can just carry it and you'll be the mysterious kung fu master that surely all the girls will love." Hou replied.
That sounded perfect, I was all right with carrying things, although if you want to be technical about it I made Hou carry most of our supplies. All of them, really. At least until the bandits stole them. We went into the next town and I went into the inn and demanded wine.
"Why are you naked?" asked the barmaid. This was a silly question, couldn't the foolish girl see we had been robbed by bandits? I would have beaten her and all the bouncers in the inn to a pulp but they ganged up on me and threw me out of town. Hou, the coward, was nowhere around and no help at all.
Soon he arrived carrying two robes. "You see? I managed to make off with these in the confusion."
I pushed him roughly. What a foolish plan. Still, we were dressed again. I was about to go back into town and teach that woman a lesson but Hou suggested we keep looking for the scroll. Soon we came to a monastary high in the mountains. To my dismay, all of the monks in the monastary were outland barbarians with hair as red as a sunset! According to a nearby farmer, who was treating his hunting dog very kindly, by the way, the monks had been learning beneath the finest philosophers and monks of our Empire ever since the emperor bested one of their ambassadors in some kind of debate. Blah blah blah, talk talk talk. I'd show that emperor a thing or two if I ever saw him, or her, whoever it was.
Still, we couldn't just rush right in. "I'm not going to dye my hair to go inside, you do it, Hou!" I said, pushing him. We spent some time gathering red flowers and mashing them into a paste, then soaking them in honey and sap so that it would stick in his hair. Although his hair glistened a little and our hair picks were ruined, his hair was eventually a brilliant shade of red. He approached the gates of the monastary and entered. Hours passed and nothing happened. Hou stole out of the monastary late that night and told me he'd been accepted as a monk into the order and he would try to find the scroll as soon as he could. Well, it was a very hard few weeks sleeping in that farmer's shed, and very smelly too, but how else was I going to become a great adventurer when my own brother-in-law wouldn't fight when I ordered him to?
Finally the night came when Hou snuck out and said he was going to make a try for the scroll the next day when the monks were at morning meditations, he told me to wait for him at the front gate. To my surprise, when I got there, not only was Hou not there, but his wife, my sister, was! She was beneath a battered travel shade and yelled at me, "Worthless brother! Where is my sorry excuse for a husband?" But before I could answer or cuff her across the face - I was going to do it, really! I was! You can count on it! - I could see Hou approaching. She stared at him for a moment, then shrieked, "Your hair! You have dyed your hair to disguise yourself from me! So that you would be attractive to some outlander whore no doubt! Hou, you addled dog! You simpering toad! You must return with me at once! The customers are waiting! You will leave us in penury! The shame of it! You wish my family name disgraced? Is that what you want? My honor trampled in the mud due to your wandering and, and your pathetic philandering?" Hou tried to explain but as he did not understand the ways of women, like I do, he didn't punch her in the mouth and so couldn't get a word in edgewise.
As it turned out, the scroll of the Wolf's Spin of the Unknown Mask had been stolen three weeks before by some foolish thief or rogue named Sun or Cloud or Bird or something like that. The whole thing was a waste of time, but it wasn't my fault at all! I went back to get my revenge on that barmaid and she and the bouncers dragged me before the magistrate on trumped-up charges, I was only attempting to discipline a woman, it's not like I was kicking a dog! That's why I'm here doing hard labor on the wall, I have to pay off my fine. In conclusion, I have to say that my misfortune is entirely the work of fate and I am entirely innocent in the matter!
Here now, don't whip that ox! Can't you see he only wants a little water, as it's so devilish hot...
This has been a Quick Fanfic story, randomly incorporating Henpecked Hou, an "ignorant, bullying adventurer who loves animals", the Wolf's Spin of the Unknown Mask, a hair-dying incident that's misinterpreted, and paying a fine.