Wang Leizu, Zhu Leizu
Once upon a time, in the dawn of time, he was an entirely ordinary, albeit hefty warrior who traveled through Chinayindu, never staying in one place for long. The reason for this was not only his insatiable appetite but also his habit of getting into fights, which, unsurprisingly, mostly occurred in roadside inns. He didn't do it out of malice but quite the opposite, in the name of justice, which was always in short supply whenever a wandering warrior, massive as a mountain, appeared in the inn.
Of all the weapons, Wang Leizu held in the highest regard the kaumodaki mace – a long staff with a massive heavy ball at the end. Besides the wandering warrior himself, few were capable of lifting this staff. Only once did Wang Leizu encounter an opponent of equal strength, and it was a sand demon named Shu Wuzing. However, this is not mentioned in ‘The Adventures of Takuan from Koto’ at all.
Wang-Zhu Leizu earned his rather offensive nickname due to his nose, which resembled the snout of a wild boar. Together with his completely bald head and pointed ear tips, the nose of the wandering warrior became the cause of the derogatory moniker ‘Zhu.’ Leizu did not take kindly to such a nickname, and with the appearance of his porcine nose in Chinayindu, tavern brawls became noticeably more frequent.
This nose caused concern to its owner not only due to its appearance but also because, like many forest animals, it was the most sensitive and therefore the most painful spot for Leizu. If he was struck on the nose in the heat of another fight, he would become so furious that his eyes would be veiled in blood, and green smoke would emanate from his ears.
It should be noted that Leizu’s nose acquired its porcine shape by the will of the Jade Emperor himself. Once, the Ruler of the Three Realms entrusted the wandering warrior, then known simply as Wang Leizu, with delivering porcelain vases to the Jade Palace located in the Heavens. However, the manner in which Leizu fulfilled this task drove the Emperor into a furious rage, and thrice cursing Leizu, he transformed him into a pig-like form and cast him out of his palace.
How did this come to pass? That is recounted in a separate story titled ‘Wang Leizu and the Vase of Heavenly Porcelain.’
The reader first encounters Zhu Leizu on the pages of ‘The Prince of Blue Flowers’ when the path of the wandering warrior intersects with the trail that Takuan follows in search of adventure. Takuan, struck by Leizu’s appearance, immediately finds a use for him in his mischief.
In ‘Hunters of Weredemons’ and later in the concluding part titled ‘Envoys of Celestials,’ the wandering warrior receives much more attention. He finds himself at the very center of events and accompanies the monk Soliang on his journey. He also encounters Takuan, who is preoccupied with his own affairs and escapades.
If you want to learn how Takuan’s mischievous exploits intertwine with the wanderings of Zhu Leizu, begin your reading with ‘The Prince of Blue Flowers.’
To fully understand the circumstances of Zhu Leizu and Takuan's acquaintance, read ‘Hunters of Weredemons.’ It reveals how their paths crossed and the adventures they embarked upon together.
As the story unfolds in ‘Envoys of Celestials,’ Wang-Zhu Leizu’s role becomes even more prominent. He becomes an integral part of the gods-given mission to protect sacred artifacts and confront ancient demons. Together with Takuan, Soliang, and others, they face daunting challenges and unravel an ancient mystery.
The stout man was named Zhu Leizu, and he received such a nickname for his unusual appearance, for, as everybody knows, ‘zhu’ means ‘pig’. He reluctantly put a hand into his purse and fished out a gold coin. With it, everyone in the tavern could be fed, as well as those who came along later.
One thing Takuan was absolutely right about: more than anything, Zhu Leizu worried about his sensitive nose. In this, he was just like a honey badger and almost any forest beast.
Sparks of pain flew out of Leizu’s eyes from the sudden impact, and his ears steamed with rage. He jumped up, tilting the table over, and the fight ensued.
Frightened visitors huddled in the corners. Regretting the head guardsman’s ardour, the guards flew all over the tavern. No sooner had one of them stood up than the enraged Zhu Leizu grabbed him again. The very next instant, the unfortunate went flying buttocks over elbows into the nearest wall, or had his head introduced to one of the wooden tables, or was smashed onto the floor with all Leizu’s might.
To this the innkeeper replied, “Look what you’ve done! You are not welcome here anymore. Go find yourself another place to dine, Wandering Warrior.”
Having seen the carnage unfold, the innkeeper had rightly guessed how Zhu Leizu got the ‘wandering’ part of his title.
With his eyes still squeezed tightly closed, Soliang ventured, “Who are you then?”
“My name is Wang Leizu,” came the reply. “Because of my current appearance, people called me Zhu. I am a wandering warrior and a demon hunter.”
“Not a weredemon?”
“The Jade Emperor put a curse on me,” said Leizu. “May demons tear his tongue into shreds! That’s why I now look like a boar.”
The honeysuckle branches trembled, and then an ugly weredemon resembling a boar jumped out into the clearing. Its huge, bloated body was supported by legs as thick as logs, and all this was crowned by an absolutely bald head, on the sides of which ears stuck out. The demon’s nose was like a pig’s snout, and his eyes were bloodshot. In his hands the demon held a massive kaumodaki mace.
“Wretched demons!” he yelled, and pounced on the stunned weredemons. As soon as the opponents came together in a fight, they all realised that their forces were unequal.
Not only did Leizu’s nose make him look like a weredemon (as if that alone wasn’t enough!) but the pig snout also turned out to be extremely sensitive. Sturdy Leizu was not afraid of the most powerful blows to the face, but if even a light slap touched his nose, the most acute pain pierced him from the top of the head to the very end rump bone. This pain aroused such rage in the warrior’s heart that his eyes filled with blood, green smoke poured out of his ears, and he lost all control over his actions.