Sun Wukong, the Rogue
Sun Wukong was a powerful and proud Prince, the son of a great Queen and her demon lover. As a young man he was seen as an idle wastrel; he loved to drink and gamble with his friends–and there were many tales of beautiful women, too.
One night as he sat at dice in a tavern with his chosen associates, a mysterious stranger entered. He chose to drink alone and quietly, but the haughty Prince disliked to see anyone failing to acknowledge his presence and his importance. He therefore sent one of his companions to issue a challenge to the stranger to play dice with the Prince.
The stranger looked long and hard at the prince, and then nodded. He took his place opposite the Prince, and the game commenced.
Very soon, Sun Wukong realised that he faced the most skilful dice player he had ever met. Where skill was needed, his opponent possessed it in ample measure, and the luck of the game seemed always on his side, too. The Prince lost, and lost heavily, and although mere financial transactions troubled him not at all, a far more important commodity to the spoiled Prince–his pride–was hurt.
But as he played, he saw a way in which he could win–a cunning cheat through a spell taught him by his father, cast upon the dice. No-one, he thought, would realise what he had done and even at this stage, he would win the game. He stretched out his hand…
…and the stranger caught that hand and Sun Wukong’s hand opened… the spell lay like purple smoke in his hand, then gently drifted up and dissipated. But not before it had been seen by everyone in the tavern.
Then the opponent rose to his feet, and everyone recognised him as one of the gods of the land. He pronounced a curse on Sun Wukong. Until he had recovered Seven Sutras (sacred books) from a land far, far in the West, he would be forced to remain in the form of a monkey. If, said the god, he lived a virtuous life, then in times of peril he would be able to transform into other forms–but he would never lose the monkey’s tail.
Many are the stories told of Sun Wukong’s journeys in quest of the Seven Sutras. Did he live a virtuous life on his journeys? Well, it seems that he was not able to transform himself as often as he might wish, so judge for yourselves! And the tales are full of daring tricks and deceptions practiced, and very narrow escapes. But eventually he returned to his homeland with the Sutras and once again took up his role as a Prince, in human form.
So he was when the Bard Queen summoned him to become a Champion for the Princess Flora. It was declared this was for his peerless skills as a traveller. Some thought that the Bard Queen also believed that a little touch of the rogue remained, and was not averse to her daughter learning such skills too!