The Great Battle Between the Three Disciples and the Bull Demon King (Conclusion)

三徒弟大戰牛魔王 (後)

Released on February 25, 2023

The monk Tang Sanzang has been kidnapped by the Bull Demon King and Princess Iron Fan.

As the two wait for the auspicious hour to feast on the monk in order to attain immortality, Tang Sanzang's disciples race to rescue him.

After finally tracking their foes back to their lair at the Flaming Mountains, the disciples prepare to storm the base.

However, awaiting them at the entrance was the Red Child - son of the Bull Demon King and Princess Iron Fan, and wielder of the True Flames of Samadhi.

A fiery battle ensued, and the disciples only barely managed to win, thanks to the timely help of the bodhisattva Guanyin.

Now, the three disciples rush into the lair of the Bull Demon King and Princess Iron Fan, hoping to rescue their shifu.

Can Sun Wukong defeat his sworn brother, the Bull Demon King, and rescue the monk Tang Sanzang?

Or will their journey to the west end here...

Chapter 10: To the Throne Room

We had nearly fought our way into the throne room.

Swinging his Nine-Toothed Spiked-Rake, Bajie fought off the two bull demons that had charged at him.

As the two bull demons staggered back, Bajie leaped forward.

He swung his rake into the two demon from his right. Then, using his immense strength, he caught them into a spin and tossed them into a third bull demon.

Meanwhile, Wujing had used the crescent-bladed end of his monk's spade, his Crescent Moon Spade, to slam a bull demon into a wall by the throat.

As the bull demon yelled out in pain, Wujing quickly pulled his weapon back and swung the spade end into the demon's head.

From behind Wujing, I could see more bull demons charging at him.

Acting quickly, I jumped between my shidi and the bull demons.

While swinging my staff, I concentrated.

Obeying my mental command, my Ruyi Bang - my Staff of Will - stretched out to close the distance between me and the charging demons.

Thus, with one fell swoop, my swinging staff swatted them all away.

"Da-shixiong!" Wujing called out to me, "We're nearly there!"

He pointed at the doors leading to what should be the throne room.

But, many bull demons still stood in our way.

Suddenly, I had an idea.

"Ruyi Bang, enlarge!" I yelled.

And by my command, my staff began to grow in both weight and size.

Lifting it above my head, I started to swing my growing staff down in front of me.

My staff grew into a massive pillar and slammed into the ground, crushing many of the demons and splitting their forces into two.

Quickly, I ripped out a handful of my fur, and blew them in the direction of our enemies.

The different strands of my fur transformed, each one becoming a duplicate of me.

"Hold them back!" I yelled out to my duplicates.

They quickly got to work, engaging with the bull demons and keeping their forces separated - clearing the path to the throne room for us.

"Shidi!" I yelled out to Bajie and Wujing, "Now's our chance!"

The three of us charged towards the giant doors.

"Bajie, the door!" I yelled.

"I got it!" he responded.

Using just one hand, Bajie picked up an unconscious bull demon and threw the hapless demon into the doors.

And as the doors burst open, we rushed into the throne room.

Chapter 11: Reunion

"My disciples!" a voice called out to us.

It was our shifu!

We turned our attention to the far side of the room.

And there was our shifu, the monk Tang Sangzang.

"Shifu!" we called out.

He was trapped in a cage that was next to the bottom of some steps. Those steps led up onto a stage.

And on that stage were two thrones... where the Bull Demon King and Princess Iron Fan sat.

Princess Iron Fan scowled as she stood up, "Your persistence is annoying!"

I turned towards her.

And again, the demon's visage flickered.

I shook my head and blinked.

The demon's visage steadied.

'What?' I thought to myself.

But, there was no time to worry about that.

"Let him go!" I yelled out, as my fellow disciples and I charged towards the throne stage.

The Bull Demon King stood up, and we halted.

"If my wife wishes to dine on the monk," the Bull Demon King said, "then it shall be so!"

My sworn brother's voice was as loud and booming as I remembered... But, it seemed to be missing that boisterousness that I knew him for.

Unfortunately, I didn't have time to think about that either.

"You heard my husband!" Princess Iron Fan laughed, as she brought out her Banana Leaf Fan, "Away with you!"

And with one giant swing of the fan, the three of us were blown away!

"Augh!" I yelled out in pain, as I hit the ground.

The bull demons from outside, having defeated my duplicates, rushed in to surround us.

We stood up and readied our weapons.

"T-This isn't looking good!" Bajie said, nervous.

"Indeed," Wujing said, breathing heavily, "this might be the end for us..."

"Get them!" the Bull Demon King commanded.

"Yes, my king!" the bull demons cried.

And just as the bull demons were about to charge at us...

An explosion from outside blew a hole through the side of the throne room.

Chapter 12: The Two Gods

"W-What?!" Princess Iron Fan yelled out in shock.

We all turned towards the hole that the explosion had created.

And through that hole flew in an excited figure, while another figure hovered inside calmly atop a cloud.

It was that kid Nezha and that bastard Erlang Shen - two of the most powerful gods that I had ever fought!

"Looks like we found them, Erlang-ge!" Nezha said excitedly, as he hovered above us on his Wind Fire Wheels.

Erlang Shen scoffed from atop his cloud, his three eyes looking down upon us.

The fires of the Flaming Mountains recovered and blocked the newly-made hole - a hole that was almost certainly made by the Fire-Tipped Spear which Nezha proudly held at his side.

"Oh?" Nezha said, "Looks like you already have quite the fight going on there, Monkey King! Allow me to join in!"

I paused - memories of fighting Nezha and Erlang Shen during my rebellion against Heaven flashed through my mind.

But, before I could respond, Bajie frantically answered, "Yes, please! Join in!"

"Alright then!" Nezha responded, with an excited smile on his face.

"What are you doing?" Princess Iron Fan yelled at her stunned minions, "Attack them!"

"Y-Yes, my queen!" the bull demons responded, readying themselves.

"Fire-Tipped Spear," Nezha commanded, "alight!"

The blade of his spear burst with divine flames, and Nezha charged into battle with us.

Chapter 13: The Flickering Visage

Nezha thrust his Fire-Tipped Spear forward.

The flaming spear pierced a bull demon, and the demon soon burst into divine flames.

My fellow disciples and I were also in the fray, fighting off the surrounding bull demons.

As I used my Ruyi Bang to swat away a demon, I looked up at the hovering Erlang Shen.

"What about you, three eyes?!" I yelled at him, "Are you just going to float there?!"

He scoffed, "I have no interest in this battle - after all, this is a matter for mortals to handle. I am only here because Nezha dragged me along."

"However...," he said, his gaze now affixed on a worried Princess Iron Fan, "I'm surprised that you haven't spotted this yet, Monkey King."

"What do you mean?" I asked, as I looked over at Princess Iron Fan after kicking a bull demon back.

Her visage flickered once more.

Suddenly, Erlang Shen let out a cry, "Ha!"

A light emitted from the third eye on his forehead, shining brightly on the demon.

"No... No!" Princess Iron Fan screamed as she was enveloped by the light.

Her visage began to flicker wildly.

"Damn you!" she yelled.

As the light from Erlang Shen's eye faded, Princess Iron Fan's flickering visage began to fade.

And taking its place... was the White Bone Demon!

Chapter 14: The White Bone Demon

The fighting stopped.

The bull demons, confused that their queen was not who they thought she was, were stunned.

Erlang Shen, now gazing down as if his sight could pierce through the ground, said, "The real Princess Iron Fan is down in the dungeons below."

"The two bull demons guarding it are actually disguised bone demons," he revealed.

I nodded, and said to my fellow disciples, "Bajie, Wujing - go down there and bring her back up here."

Bajie nodded, "Alright."

"At once, da-shixiong," Wujing replied.

The two of them began to make their way out of the throne room.

I turned my attention to the White Bone Demon.

"You!" I said, "So you're still alive!"

The White Bone Demon cackled - the jaws of her skull-like head on her skeletal body juddered disturbingly as she did so.

"Indeed, I am," she said.

The White Bone Demon - she had tried to trick us three times by taking on the guises of various humans.

Each time, I had been able to see through her trickery with my Eyes of Fire and Gold and was able to save my shifu from being captured and eaten.

During her third attempt, I had managed to follow her back to her lair, where I had discovered the remains of the ones that she had taken the guises of - no doubt eaten by the demon herself.

It was there that I had managed to slay her... Or so I had thought.

"After you had humiliated me and left me for dead, Monkey King," the White Bone Demon began, "I managed to use all of the magic that I had left to hide myself from your sight."

"Doing so nearly killed me!" she said.

"But," she continued, "I had managed to find my way to a nearby temple."

"And that's where I was able to recover," she said, with an evil smile on her face, "by feasting on the monks there."

"I had to do so sneakily, at first," she said, "only feasting on them one at a time, while hidden and out of sight."

"But soon," she said, her smirk radiating even more evil than before, "I had recovered enough, and the whole temple was mine to dine on!"

"And what a feast it was!" she said, "The monks' ample spiritual energies did more than just heal me - before I knew it, my powers had reached a new height, and I had even gained the power to put others under my spell!"

"And now, not even your Eyes of Fire and Gold could see through my disguise," she said, "And charming someone even as powerful as the Bull Demon King was nothing for me!"

She glared at Erlang Shen, "If only that damned three-eyed god there hadn't shown up to expose my plot!"

"But," she said, as she made her way over to the Bull Demon King, "you'll still listen to me, won't you, my dear?"

Her skeletal fingers caressed the Bull Demon King's face.

"She is correct," Erlang Shen said, "I cannot dispell such magicks, Monkey King. So it will be up to you to do so."

"Thanks..." I mumbled, somewhat sarcastically.

"Come, my dear," the White Bone Demon said gently into the Bull Demon King's ear, "Let us escape with the monk, and partake in his flesh together."

I readied my Ruyi Bang, "Hey! I'm not just going to le-"

"Yes," the Bull Demon King's voice suddenly boomed out, "my wife and I shall eat the monk..."

"But..." his eyes turned and glared at the White Bone Demon, "You are not my wife!"

And in a flash, the Bull Demon King drew his swords and slashed at the White Bone Demon!

Chapter 15: The Bull Attacks the Bone

The White Bone Demon managed to jump back in time to dodge the Bull Demon King's swords.

The Bull Demon King roared and charged at her.

"I still have this!" the White Bone Demon yelled, as she took out the Banana Leaf Fan.

She swung the fan, and the Bull Demon King was pushed back by the huge gust of wind that was summoned.

"You will not stop us from consuming the monk and gaining immortality!" the Bull Demon King roared.

He struggled to take a step forward amidst the billowing winds.

Seeing my chance, I jumped up and over the bull demons, hoping to make my way to my shifu.

But, the White Bone Demon would not let me.

"Stay away!" she yelled, as she swung her fan at me.

I yelled out as a huge gust of wind sent me flying back.

However, before I could crashed into the ground, a second gust of wind came at me from behind and it allowed me to gently land.

"Da-shixiong!" the familiar voice of Wujing called out to me.

I turned around to see Wujing and Bajie rushing towards me.

And behind them... was the real Princess Iron Fan!

Chapter 16: Clashing Winds

"Enough!" Princess Iron Fan yelled, as she flew up into the air.

Gracefully, she flew towards her husband, and landed between the Bull Demon King and the White Bone Demon.

"You!" the White Bone Demon yelled, her voice now desperate.

She swung the Banana Leaf Fan once more.

However, the gust of wind would not reach Princess Iron Fan nor the Bull Demon King.

Lifting her hand up, the real Princess Iron Fan dissipated the winds summoned by the fan.

"The Banana Leaf Fan may be a treasure that acts as a conduit for my powers..." she explained, "But I am the real wielder of the winds!"

And with a flick of her hand, she summoned her own giant gust of wind that slammed into the White Bone Demon, blasting the demon into the air.

The White Bone Demon crashed into a wall.

Seeing my chance, I leapt into the air.

"Ruyi Bang, enlarge!" I yelled.

And as my staff became the size of a pillar, I thrust its end into the White Bone Demon.

Chapter 17: Charmed

"Augh!" the White Bone Demon yelled out in pain as my Ruyi Bang slammed into her, crushing her deeper into the wall.

As I landed, I commanded my staff to become regular-sized again.

From above, the White Bone Demon fell from the crater in the wall, crashing into the ground below.

I cautiously approached her.

Using my staff, I turned her around so that I could see her face.

She coughed.

"Damn... Damn you..." she said.

And then she laid motionless, the last of her life having been withered away.

I looked up at Erlang Shen, "Is she dead, for real this time?"

Erlang Shen looked at the remains of the White Bone Demon, and he nodded, "I can confirm that the White Bone Demon is no more."

I wiped the sweat from my brow and let out a sigh of relief.

Finally, it was over, and we could-

The Bull Demon King roared.

I turned my attention to my sworn brother, who was being tended to by his wife.

"My dear," Princess Iron Fan said, concerned, "What's wrong?"

"You are not my wife!" the Bull Demon King said, "If you want to let the monk go, then you are not my wife either!"

"No!" Princess Iron Fan protested, "I am your wife! Can't you see-"

Nezha quickly whisked her away before the Bull Demon King could strike her with his swords.

"He must still be under the effects of the White Bone Demon's charm spell!" Nezha yelled out.

"The monk is ours!" the Bull Demon King roared and began to head towards my shifu.

Bajie and Wujing jumped into the fray, blocking the Bull Demon King from our shifu.

"Shixiong!" Bajie yelled, "Get shifu out of here! Quickly!"

"Thank you!" I yelled back, as the two of them began to engage the Bull Demon King.

Quickly, I made my way over to the cage that our shifu was trapped in.

"Stand back, shifu," I said.

Then, as soon as he did so, I used my Ruyi Bang to break open the door of the cage.

"Thank you, Wukong," he said, as he got out of the cage, "It is good to see you."

"We have to leave," I said, "but..."

I looked over at my shidi, who were having trouble fighting the Bull Demon King.

Suddenly, a neigh rang out from beside us - it was our trusty steed!

"Bailongma!" I exclaimed in surprise, "What are you doing here?"

Bailongma neighed again and tapped his hoof, impatient.

"Oh, nevermind! Perfect timing!" I said, "Shifu, get on and go!"

He nodded, and I helped him up onto Bailongma.

"Stop them!" the Bull Demon King yelled out to his minions.

I turned to see the bull demons blocking our way out.

While some of them seemed confused by the preceding events, many of them were still intent on stopping us from leaving.

"Bajie! Wujing!" I called out, "I'll hold off the Bull Demon King! Get shifu to safety!"

"Yes, shixiong!" the both of them responded.

They swung their weapons in unison, forcing the Bull Demon King to block their blows.

Taking the chance, my shidi jumped in front of our shifu, while I jumped in front of the Bull Demon King.

"Now go!" I yelled.

And with that, Bajie, Wujing, and even Bailongma began to fight their way through the bull demons, leading our shifu to safety.

"Now then, brother," I said, turning to face the Bull Demon King, "Let's see if I can knock some sense back into you!"

Chapter 18: The Bull Demon King

"Please, save my husband," Princess Iron Fan said, as Nezha let her down.

I nodded, "I will."

Nezha hovered over, the Wind Fire Wheels still blazing beneath his feet.

"Looks like you could use a hand, Monkey King," he said.

"I'd appreciated it," I replied, as I readied my weapon, "Please, try not to kill him."

Nezha nodded, "You have my word."

The Bull Demon King glared and snarled at us, his face full of anger and frustration.

Nezha and I readied ourselves, preparing to strike at the right moment.

Then, the Bull Demon King roared and charged at us, his swords ready to attack.

"Armillary Sash," Nezha commanded, "trip him!"

The red sash that had been floating around Nezha's shoulders obeyed and flew towards the rushing bull.

I followed suit, charging towards my sworn brother.

Suddenly, the sash flew low, and it wrapped itself around one of the Bull Demon King's ankles.

Then, with a strong pull, the Armillary Sash yanked the Bull Demon King's foot out from under him.

"What?!" the Bull Demon King yelled out as he fell towards me.

Seeing my chance, I swung my Ruyi Bang at the falling bull's face.

"Ha!" I yelled out as I swung my staff.

My staff slammed into the Bull Demon King's head, and the bull demon crashed into the ground.

Chapter 19: Battle's End

Moments passed as we waited.

The Bull Demon King did not get up.

I began to cautiously approach my sworn brother, and Nezha followed suit.

Hovering behind me, Nezha asked, "Is he... unconscious?"

I knelt down next to the fallen bull, and placed a hand next to his nostrils.

As I felt the breath coming out of my sworn brother's nose, I let out a sigh of relief.

"Yes, he is still alive," I said.

"Good," Nezha replied.

Then, he asked, "Was the Bull Demon King always such an... easy opponent?"

"No," I replied, standing up, "He definitely wasn't - the Bull Demon King that I knew was a great warrior and a brilliant tactician."

"Hm..." I thought aloud, "The charm spell and his earlier battles must have left his mind so exhausted that all he had left were his brute strength and the singular command to dine on my shifu with his wife."

"That may be it," Nezha said, "And here I thought that we were going to have a great battle."

"Oh, well," he said, with a cheeky smile and a shrug of his shoulders.

I sat down on the ground, and let out another breath of relief, "To be honest with you, I'm pretty exhausted myself - so I'm glad that it was over quickly."

Nezha's blazing wheels disappeared and he landed on the ground.

Sitting down next to me, he wiped off some of the sweat on his brow.

Chuckling, he said, "Hehee, yeah, I guess it worked out."

He smiled and gave me a thumbs up.

I smiled back and returned the gesture.

"Yes, my queen!" I heard from behind us.

I turned around to see the bull demons kneeling in front of Princess Iron Fan.

"Good," she said, "Now return to your posts. I'll need a few of you to help me tend to my husband."

The bull demons obeyed, and began to carry out their orders.

"And it looks like she was able to take back control of the bull demons," Nezha said, "I guess the battle is finally over."

"Yes," I said, nodding, "the battle has finally ended."

Chapter 20: Atonement

I gave the Banana Leaf Fan a giant swing.

And with that, a giant gust of wind was summoned, and it began to put out some of the fires of the Flaming Mountains.

As I stood on my Somersault Cloud, hovering over the still-fiery mountain, I gave the Banana Leaf Fan another swing.

Another giant gust of wind was summoned, and more flames were snuffed out.

I swung the fan over and over again, until all the fires of the Flaming Mountains had been extinguished.

And this time, thanks to Princess Iron Fan telling me how to do so, the fires would gone for good.

At last, the Flaming Mountains would be on fire no more, and the nearby villages could now live without the fiery threat looming over them.

Having fixed, at least, one of my mistakes, I flew back down to join the others.

Chapter 21: Judgement

"Thank you," I said to Princess Iron Fan, as I handed her Banana Leaf Fan back to her.

She gave me a nod and gracefully took her fan back.

"Thank you, brother" the Bull Demon King said, walking up to me, "for rescuing my wife, and for breaking that accursed charm spell that had been cast on me."

"Well," I said, cracking a smile, "I'm glad that I was able to knock some sense back into you."

And, together, we shared a hearty laugh.

However, no matter how hearty the laugh was, there was no hiding the shackles that were on the both of them.

I turned to Nezha and Erlang Shen.

I clasped my fist into my hand and bowed my head, "Thank you both for helping us, despite our... past history."

Erlang Shen gave a characteristically stoic nod, while Nezha smiled and said, "Well, I wouldn't be a good protector god if I didn't help!"

I gestured to my sworn brother and his wife, and I began to say, "I know that they must be taken away to be passed judgement for their crimes-"

"Yes," Erlang Shen said, "For their crimes of terrorizing the nearby villages, holding the villages hostage to the Flaming Mountains by demanding annual tributes, and for forcing the villagers to stay silent under the threat of violence - they must be brought to Heaven to be judged."

"I don't disagree," I said, "But..."

I knelt down on one knee and bowed my head, "Please, show them mercy and leniency, for they are my sworn brother and his wife! By my word, I vouch that they will atone for their sins and use their powers for good!"

The Bull Demon King and Princess Iron Fan knelt down beside me and bowed their heads as well, "Please, have mercy - we promise to atone!"

Erlang Shen scoffed.

"Erlang-ge..." I heard Nezha say from behind me.

Upon hearing his younger comrade, Erlang Shen relented, "Your words will be taken into account, Monkey King - I will deliver them to the judges myself."

"Thank you, great god!" I said.

"Yes, thank you!" the Bull Demon King and Princess Iron Fan repeated.

"Now stand up," Erlang Shen said, "We must begin our journey."

After we stood up, Princess Iron Fan said, "Before we go to Heaven, may I please ask for one more favour from you both?"

"What is it?" Nezha said.

"We heard from Monkey King that our son, Red Child, was taken in by Guanyin," she replied, "Please, let us see our son one more time, before we are brought before the judges."

"No, we don't-" Erlang Shen began to say.

But, Nezha interrupted him, "Of course, we can! I've wanted to meet him myself - I hear that he's a great warrior who can control fire?"

Princess Iron Fan smiled, "Yes, that's our son!"

The Bull Demon King laughed, "So, you've heard of our son as well, have you, great Nezha? That makes us proud!"

Erlang Shen relented, "Fine, we can. But no more delays after that."

"Thank you, Lord Erlang Shen!" Princess Iron Fan and the Bull Demon King said, joyously.

Nezha grinned, "I wonder if Guanyin will let me spar with him?"

"Now," Erlang Shen said, his patience wearing thin, "we must take our leave."

"Right!" Nezha said, and he turned to me, "We'll have to spar again sometime, Monkey King!"

And so, we said our goodbyes, and the two gods left with my sworn brother and his wife.

Chapter 22: Our Journey to the West

I walked back over to where my fellow disciples and my shifu were waiting for me.

Exhausted from the events, my shifu was fast asleep, while my fellow disciples were keeping watch over him.

"All done?" Bajie asked.

"All done," I confirmed, smiling.

"That was quite the adventure!" Wujing said, "I wasn't sure that we would be able to save shifu this time!"

"Ha!" I said, "With the three of us together, no demons can defeat us!"

And the three of us shared a laugh together.

"Still," Bajie said, "It was very lucky that Guanying, Nezha, and Erlang Shen all showed up to help!"

Wujing nodded, "Indeed, er-shixiong."

I chuckled, and said, "I'm amazed tha-"

Suddenly, Bailongma neighed loudly from behind me.

We turned our attention to the horse.

Bajie began to walk over, annoyed, "What's got you so riled u-"

Suddenly, Bailongma transformed into a white dragon!

The three of us jumped back in surprise.

"It was me," the dragon said, "I was the one who went to the three of them for help, when it seemed that our situation was most dire."

We stared at the dragon in shock.

Puzzled, the dragon asked, "Why are you all surprised? Weren't you all treating me as if I was just a horse, so that I could be kept as a secret weapon?"

Another moment passed, as Bajie, Wujing, and I were still in awe of the white dragon in front of us.

Getting irritated, Bailongma began to say, "You didn't forget that I was-"

"N-No!" I said, snapping out of my surprise, "Of course not! Great job, Bailongma!"

"Yes!" Bajie said, "Well done!"

"Indeed," Wujing nodded, "Thank you, shidi."

Another moment passed, as Bailongma looked at us with a suspicious eye.

Bailongma finally spoke, "Are you sure-"

Our shifu groaned.

"Oh, look!" I said, trying to take the attention away from us, "Shifu is waking up! Quick, Bailongma, he'll need a steed!"

"Yes, yes!" Bajie chimed in, "You better hurry up! We wouldn't want shifu to have to walk, right?"

Bailongma grumbled, "Alright, alright."

And with that, the white dragon became a horse again.

Wujing helped our shifu up.

"Thank you, Wujing," he said, "And it is good to see you too - Wukong, Bajie."

"Are you well rested, shifu?" I asked.

"Indeed, I am," he said, "Thank you all for saving me, once again."

"Of course, shifu!" Bajie said, "We're just doing our duty!"

Bailongma neighed.

"Come," I said, "Let us help you onto your steed."

After we had done that, our shifu looked out towards the unexplored lands from atop his horse.

"Well then," he said, "shall we continue?"

Wujing nodded, "I am ready when you are, shifu."

Bajie groaned, "I was hoping that we could stop somewhere for food and rest first..."

Our shifu laughed, "That might not be such a bad idea."

Bailongma neighed, as if in agreement.

"Alright," I said, "Food and rest first, and then we continue?"

Everyone agreed.

"Good, then let's go!" I said, smiling.

And so, we continued... on our journey to the west.

A very long story this time that I decided to split into two 'episodes' because I thought that it'd be easier to read (and write) if I did so.
On a paratextual note, these two parts were released during the month of the third anniversary of Retelling Myths; and the very first Retelling Myths was also a story based on Journey to the West!
I had also planned on this being the last story for this collection of short stories, making this a bookend to the very first Retelling Myths.
However, as you will see, I came up with an idea that I hope will be a better story to end the collection with, so this won't be the last one anyone.
But, I see the next story as more of an epilogue, so it still sort of works...
Anyways, on with the commentary about the story itself!
For this story (for ease, I will refer to both parts as a single story, even though it's counted as two), I wanted to do a retelling that kind of encapsulated the feeling of Journey to the West as a whole - as an episodic adventure where our protagonists battled demons along the way on their journey to the west.
I had wanted to capture both the action-adventure nature and the episodic nature of the original. So, instead of just retelling one story from the book or doing a vignette like I did with the first story, I decided to create an 'episode' (well, it turned into two) that mixes several different parts together along with some original parts, with the story involving the Bull Demon King as the base.
As for why I chose the Bull Demon King story - that's because it's probably the most well-known part of Journey to the West, as well as being the part that I wanted to retell the most.
I also mixed in two separate stories - one that dealt with the White Bone Demon, and one that dealt with the Red Child.
Tying the Red Child in with this story felt natural, since the Red Child is the son of the Bull Demon King and Princess Iron Fan.
As for the White Bone Demon...
In the original story dealing with Princess Iron Fan and the Bull Demon King, Monkey King and the others use a series of tricks to steal the Banana Leaf Fan from Princess Iron Fan, which then leads into a fight with the Bull Demon King. So, most of the story is actually about Sun Wukong trying to steal the Banana Leaf Fan, and the action is only at the very end.
I wanted a story that was a bit more action-y, so the White Bone Demon's abilities to disguise herself was amplified and she was also given charm powers - this, along with having a bull demon army, allowed for a more action-packed story.
In the original, the Bull Demon King didn't really have other bull demons following him, as far as I could tell. Since I needed a bit more action in this story, as mentioned, I gave him some minions.
Conversely, the Red Child did have his own army of sorts; but I took that out, since that wouldn't have fit this story.
Along with the Bull Demon King, Sun Wukong also had other sworn brothers that were part of the group. However, to simplify things for this story, I had just the two of them making the pact.
I also kinda made up the reason why the two became sworn brothers - as far as I know, they didn't join forces to fight off other demons.
Instead, the two of them became sworn brothers (along with the other Demon Kings that I had cut out from the story) after Sun Wukong defeats the Dragon Kings and gains the Ruyi Jingu Bang. The aforementioned Demon Kings (including the Bull Demon King) then seek out an alliance with the Monkey King after hearing of his exploits.
Of course..., in the very first Retelling Myths, "The Great Sage, the Equal to Heaven", I had already made a slight change to the original in that Sun Wukong actually declines this offer, and subdues the Demon Kings instead...
So, in a serendipitous way, that change helped me make more changes here!
I also did not include the Bull Demon King's self-proclaimed title of "The Great Sage, the Pacifier of Heaven", because it wouldn't have quite worked in the timeline of my two stories. The Bull Demon King had proclaimed this title after Sun Wukong proclaimed himself as "The Great Sage, the Equal to Heaven", because the Bull Demon King was the "elder brother" in their pact. But, this was in-between stints of Sun Wukong wreaking havoc in Heaven. In my first story, however, I had made it seem like the events from the Monkey King wreaking havoc in Heaven to Heaven sending an army after him happened in quick secession, which left no time for the Bull Demon King to visit the Monkey King.
Speaking of the pact, I also left it vague as to who was considered the "elder brother" in my story, rather than having the Bull Demon King be the "elder brother".
I also took out the Bull Demon King's mistress entirely, and the White Bone Demon basically stands in for her.
In the original, Erlang Shen does not help against any of the villains in this story.
But, he does help against a different demon, so I decided to include him here. He's considered very powerful, so I felt that a team-up of demons halting Guanyin's chosen monk would justify his inclusion in the story.
Nezha did help against the Bull Demon King, and Guanyin did help against the Red Child - hence their inclusions in this story.
As for the whole bit with Bailongma - the original Journey to the West and subsequent adaptations tend to forget that Bailongma isn't just a horse; so, this was my way of having a little fun with it, as well as giving him something to do, other than just being a steed.
With this story, there's a whole bunch of name changes that I made; or rather, I translated them differently than the most well-known translations.
My main reasons for doing so were because I wanted them to sound more poetic, and to make some of them more accurate.
For example, the Red Child is usually translated as Red Boy. But his name in Chinese uses 'Child' and not 'Boy'.
Another example is Monkey King's special powers with his eyes - that's usually translated as Fiery Eyes and Golden Pupils, but I felt that Eyes of Fire and Gold sounded better.
And there's a whole bunch of things like this that I made tiny changes to, for mostly poetic reasons.
As for why the 'the' is sometimes dropped for Monkey King, Bull Demon King, and Red Child - it's kind of like how it is with Batman and Joker; sometimes they're Batman and Joker, and sometimes they're the Batman and the Joker.
Originally, Sha Wujing did not use a monk's spade; instead, he uses a blade-less staff as his weapon.
However, Sha Wujing has been associated with a monk's spade (though, sometimes, it's a polearm with just the crescent blade and without the spade part) since centuries ago, and has been popularly depicted with it in modern times as well. And since that was the weapon that I had most associated with him while growing up, I decided to stick with that for this story.
Also, he rarely has powers over sand in most of his portrayals, so that was something that I added in for this story.
And finally, to some readers, the way that the Bull Demon King is defeated may seem anti-climatic - and that is a totally fair opinion of it.
To me though, the White Bone Demon had already been defeated in what could be considered the central conflict of the story - after all, the Bull Demon King was under a charm spell and not fully in control of his own actions. So, I didn't want to drag out the story for much longer after that had been resolved.
I did think about just having the charm spell be broken as soon as the White Bone Demon was defeated. However, I wanted to pay homage to the original story where Sun Wukong does have to fight the Bull Demon King and Nezha shows up to help. And it also felt more natural to me to, at the very least, have some sort of fight with the Bull Demon King. Hence, the extra bit of fighting there.
In the end, I think that everyone - me as the writer, you as the reader, and the character themselves - would have been exhausted by the time that we got there; so a quick fight felt like the most natural way to resolve it.
Oh, and if you're interested about the honorifics used...
'Shifu' means mentor or teacher. It is more commonly translated as 'master', though I've never liked that translation myself. I feel that 'master' doesn't convey the teacher-student relationship well enough, so I usually translate it as mentor or teacher instead. After all, the 'shi' part literally means a teacher and/or a master of a craft. The 'fu' part literally means 'father', so there's also the familial undertones that are missing from most translations. Hence, I opted to use 'shifu' rather than translating it.
'Shixiong' is used to address an older fellow student/disciple of the same teacher, usually reserved for males. By older, it doesn't necessarily mean by age though, it could be by seniority. The 'xiong' literally means 'older brother'.
'Da-shixiong' and 'er-shixiong' is used to address the most senior fellow student/disciple and the second most senior fellow student/disciple, respectively. The 'da' literally means 'big', as the in the 'eldest" in this case. The 'er' literally means 'second'.
'Shidi' is used to address a younger/junior fellow student/disciple, usually reserved for males. The 'di' literally means 'younger brother'.
Had I just used 'master' or 'mentor', and/or if I had Wukong, Bajie, and Wujing just addressing each other by names, a lot of the familial undertones would be missing. Hence, I decided to use those honorifics instead.
Hopefully, that was explained well enough in the text.
One thing that I didn't explain though, was Nezha calling Erlang Shen 'Erlang-ge'. The '-ge' is a suffix that literally means 'older brother'. In this case, Nezha is using it to address his older male friend that he's close with.
The reason why that's not explained in the text is simply because I couldn't find a good spot for it, so here's the explanation...

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