Because it wasn’t enough to be accompanied by the beast who scared the crap out of every god in Heaven, Xuanzang was assigned a few more traveling companions. The gluttonous pig-man Zhu Baijie. Sha Wujing, the repentant sand demon. And the Dragon Prince of the West Sea, who took the form of a horse for Xuanzang to ride. The five adventurers, thusly gathered, set off on their—
“Holy ballsacks!” I yelped. I dropped the book like I’d been bitten.
“How far did you get?” Quentin said.
He was leaning against the end of the nearest shelf, as casually as if he’d been there the whole time, waiting for this moment.
I ignored that he’d snuck up on me again, just this once. There was a bigger issue at play.
In the book was an illustration of the group done up in bold lines and bright colors. There was Sun Wukong at the front, dressed in a beggar’s cassock, holding his Ruyi Jingu Bang in one hand and the reins of the Dragon Horse in the other. A scary-looking pig-faced man and a wide-eyed demon monk followed, carrying the luggage. And perched on top of the horse was . . . me.
The artist had tried to give Xuanzang delicate, beatific features and ended up with a rather girly face. By whatever coincidence, the drawing of Sun Wukong’s old master could have been a rough caricature of sixteen-year-old Eugenia Lo from Santa Firenza, California.
“That’s who you think I am?” I said to Quentin.
“That’s who I know you are,” he answered. “My dearest friend. My boon companion. You’ve reincarnated into such a different form, but I’d recognize you anywhere. Your spiritual energies are unmistakable.”
“Are you sure? If you’re from a long time ago, maybe your memory’s a little fuzzy.”
“The realms beyond Earth exist on a different time scale,” Quentin said. “Only one day among the gods passes for every human year. To me, you haven’t been gone long. Months, not centuries.”
“This is just . . . I don’t know.” I took a moment to assemble my words. “You can’t walk up to me and expect me to believe right away that I’m the reincarnation of some legendary monk from a folk tale.”
“Wait, what?” Quentin squinted at me in confusion.
“I said you can’t expect me to go, ‘okay, I’m Xuanzang,’ just because you tell me so.”
Quentin’s mouth opened slowly like the dawning of the sun. His face went from confusion to understanding to horror and then finally to laughter.
“mmmmphhhhghAHAHAHAHA!” he roared. He nearly toppled over, trying to hold his sides in. “HAHAHAHA!”
“What the hell is so funny?”
“You,” Quentin said through his giggles. “You’re not Xuanzang. Xuanzang was meek and mild. A friend to all living things. You think that sounds like you?”
It did not. But then again I wasn’t the one trying to make a case here.
“Xuanzang was delicate like a chrysanthemum.” Quentin was getting a kick out of this. “You are so tough you snapped the battleaxe of the Mighty Miracle God like a twig. Xuanzang cried over squashing a mosquito. You, on the other hand, have killed more demons than the Catholic Church.”
I was starting to get annoyed. “Okay, then who the hell am I supposed to be?” If he thought I was the pig, then this whole deal was off.
“You’re my weapon,” he said. “You’re the Ruyi Jingu Bang.”
I punched Quentin as hard as I could in the face.
F.C. Yee (The Epic Crush of Genie Lo (The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, #1))