Step Three – The Challenge – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Step Three – The Challenge – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Li Bai had been puzzling on a thought for a few days, so taking out his magic bottle, he addressed the fenghuang. ‘I have been thinking about what you told me when we first met, but I am a little puzzled at what you said about four other creatures. You said the dragon, qilin, turtle, and you divided the world into five and you each are responsible for one part, but if there are only four of you. How can you each look after a fifth.’

The fenghuang replied. ‘No, I said dragon, qilin, turtle and feng huang. At the beginning of creation the feng and the huang were male and female, but as time went on we realised that since we were immortal there was no need for male and female. So we united and became one. The Fenghuang answered.

‘Oh! Now I understand’ said Li Bai and was pleased that the nagging thought had been resolved. So taking a drink from the bottle he carried on with his journey.

It was late afternoon when Li Bai found himself on the outskirts of a village, the name of which he knew not. Having been travelling for days, through ever-changing terrain, with just his own thoughts for company, he decided to go into the village, just for a bit of gossip.

Walking slowly along a dirt road, for the weather was hot and humid and Li Bai was covered in dust, from a dust cloud that had sprung out of nowhere.

Making his way to a shabby run down tavern he was dismayed to find it did not stock any alcoholic beverages. Which was a very unusual state of affairs, for every village and city throughout China had its own version of Jiu, be it Huangjiu or Choujiu, but this tavern only sold food. There were a couple of tables where one could indulge in a game of mah-jong or a game of chess if they took your fancy.

Upon further discussion with the proprietor, he learned the reason for this, was a giant, who lived in the mountain and held the village to ransom by demanding all the alcohol they could produce, or he would wreak the village and their farmlands.

Li Bai was intrigued, so bidding the proprietor to fetch two glasses he bade him sit down, and he poured each of them a drink from his magic bottle, which to the proprietor looked like an ordinary water gourd.

‘Ganbei’ said Li Bai and they both drained their glasses. After pouring them each another shot, Li Bai said ‘tell me about this giant.’

So the proprietor who was only too thankful to have a bit of company and a free drink to boot, told Li Bai the tale of how two summers ago the giant settled in the mountain behind the village.

‘At first he kept himself to himself and would only come into the village to buy barrels of Choujiu.’ said the proprietor, draining his glass.

‘Carry on’ said Li Bai refilling it.

And so he and the proprietor sat talking and drinking until the afternoon turned into night. Which by then they were well into their cups.

‘So he likes a drink, does he. I will cure him. I will go and pay this giant a visit.’ announced Li Bai full of bravado through the Jiu. Staggering to his feet he lurched out the door. The night was very dark, with clouds blocking out the moon. As Li Bai groped his way along the mountain path, making enough noise to awaken the entire village, the stars on his bottle began to shine and as they left the bottle they hovered above his head. Lighting up the night with the radiance of a full moon giving him plenty of light to negotiate the torturous climb. Eventually he reached the giants cave and the giant was standing at its entrance having been awoken by all the noise Lai Bai was making.

‘And what brings you here, disturbing the night.’ roared the giant. Although he was angry at having his sleep disturbed by a rowdy human, he was curious as to who had the courage to do so.

‘I have come to challenge you, to stop you threatening the good village folk.’

The giant laughed at this ‘What!’ he exclaimed rather taken aback ‘You challenge me to a fight.’

‘No, not to a fight.’ shouted Li Bai.

‘What then, a game of Tiu-u,’ said the giant laughing.

‘No! A drinking challenge.’ and Li Bai held up his magic bottle which looked to the giant like a tiny water gourd. ‘I challenge you to empty the contents of this in one go. If you win you can eat me for breakfast, but if you loose you must promise to help the villagers and not rob them.’

Laughing the giant agreed. Not because he fancied the human for breakfast, no he was a vegetarian, but he was sure such a small bottle would be no challenge.

‘Not even enough to wet my lips.’ Shouted the giant as he carefully took the magic bottle between thumb and forefinger. He put it to his lips and tilted back his head. For an hour he stood thus, with the liquor teaming down his throat like the waters flowing over the Huangguoshu waterfalls. Then he slumped to the floor in an alcoholic stupor.

‘Bending forward Li Bai picked up the magic bottle, took a drink and replaced the stopper, and then he contemplated chopping of the giants head.

But the Fenghuang materialized in front of him. ‘Do not mar your soul with such dark thoughts.’ it whispered ‘You have made a bargain, that the giant must help the people, the giant agreed to your challenge now you must keep to your end of the deal. Or you will disturb the hand of fate.’ then it vanished.

Taken aback Li Bai sat next to the fallen giant and began to slowly sip from his bottle, after a couple of mouthfuls, he took out pen and paper from his box and began to write, losing himself in thought.

He was brought out of his musing by the stirring of the giant. So putting pen and paper away, he waited until the giant was on his feet.

‘Well’ slurred the giant ‘It seems I have lost the challenge. What is it that you want of me?’

Li Bai was rather surprised by the giants apparent friendliness, seeing as he had lost the bet and must have one hell of a hangover. Li Bai was ashamed of his earlier thoughts, but said ‘Not I, let us go and ask the villagers how best you can repay them.’

It was morning by now, so putting on his backpack and picking up his staff along with his bamboo box, he and the giant ambled down from the mountain to the village. At first the people were afraid to approach them, but when they heard that the giant was there to make amends, they all gathered around, and it was agreed if the giant would help them build a dam and plough and irrigate some barren land they would teach him how to make his own Jiu.

The giant agreed, not knowing by doing this, that one day the village would become famous throughout the width and breadth of China. For its huge brewery and its Jiu.

Quietly slipping away from the crowd. Li Bai resumed his journey and as he was walking down the dusty road he took a drink of V.I.P Jiu 8 from the magic bottle, ‘What have I learned today?’ he asked himself, then answered ‘By not doing what you promise, can have dire consequences.’ and from his nangbao he took a piece of paper and began to read.

To witness fallen giants

The mind does contemplate

Why reality walks eternally

Side by side with fickle fate