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Chinese Popular Myth : The Legend of The Monkey King (Sun Wu Kong)

Part 6: The Emperor of All

High above in Heaven, at the Cloud Palace of the Golden Doors, in the Hall of Divine Mist, the Jade Emperor, Ruler of Heaven and Earth, was having a bad day.

He had spent his whole morning stamping his official seal on documents promoting or demoting heavenly officials. In the afternoon his wife, the Lady Queen Mother, had demanded his help with the invitation list for the Grand Banquet of Immortal Peaches. And now both the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea and Yama, Lord of the Dead, stood before him complaining of some kind of monkey who had become immortal, with power enough to threaten them both.

“I’ll see to it at once,” said the Jade Emperor. “Now, both of you, please return to your kingdoms.”

No sooner had the Dragon King and Yama left the hall than a lieutenant rushed in and bowed to the ground.

“Your Majesty, there’s trouble at the East Gate. A talking monkey arrived there an hour ago and demanded entrance. Four of our guards engaged him in combat, but he is holding them all off with a simple staff.”

“Indeed,” said the Jade Emperor, raising an imperial eyebrow. “This must be the monkey Immortal that was reported to us.” He turned to his commander-in-chief, the Heavenly General of Mighty Miracle. “Round up the twelve Thunder Generals and arrest the fiend.”

But the Spirit of the Great White Planet Venus stepped forward and said, “Your Majesty, as your chief minister, I must point out that this monkey’s deeds may not yet merit such a response. Would it not be better simply to invite him into Heaven and offer him a position? Then we could keep an eye on him and avoid further trouble.”

“An excellent idea,” said the Jade Emperor. “You may go at once to extend the invitation.”

The Great White Planet soon returned with Monkey and bowed low before the Celestial Throne. “Your Majesty, I have brought the Immortal.”

“Remarkable,” said the Jade Emperor, looking Monkey up and down.

“Glad to meet you too!” said Monkey. “So, what’s it like, running the universe?”

A gasp went up from the Great White Planet and from the other court officials. The Jade Emperor stared icily at Monkey. “In light of your primitive background and the recentness of your arrival, I will overlook your ignorance of court etiquette.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty!” said Monkey. “I knew we’d get along.”

“Now, in regard to a post,” said the Jade Emperor, “my officials tell me the only current vacancy is as a supervisor in the Imperial Stables.”

“Sounds important!” said Monkey. “I’ll take it!”

“Very good,” said the Jade Emperor. “Henceforth, your title shall be ‘Protector of Horses.’”

“‘Protector of Horses,’” said Monkey dreamily. “Thank you, Your Majesty!” And as the Great White Planet pulled him quickly from the hall, he called back, “You won’t be sorry!”

“I’m not so sure about that,” muttered the Jade Emperor.

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