It has been a while since the last time we talked about the remote nations of the world. Today will be the sixth episode of this series of stories.
The story today is from the book Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang 酉阳杂俎 from the Tang dynasty 唐朝 around the 9th century. The story says, in the year 701, a scholar got on a ship with the a group of government officials to the Kingdom XinLuo 新罗, which was a kingdom on the Korean island. On the way, the ship got lost and landed on a small island. Everyone on the island had long beard and called their land the Kingdom of Long Beard 长须国.
The language they spoke wasn’t much different what people spoke during the Tang dynasty and the kingdom was pretty prosperous. The buildings and clothes were a little different. The scholar walked around on the island and everyone was really respectful.
One day, tens of horses and carts stopped at the hotel the scholar stayed and he was informed that the king would like to meet with him. He was a little anxious but still followed them for two days to a magnificent palace. He was welcomed by the king and even offered the marriage of a princess. The princess was really beautiful but the only thing was that she also had long and thick beard like everyone else in the kingdom.
The scholar became one of the royal family. He got a high position in the palace and a lot money. The only thing that bothered him was his bearded wife. Time flies! The scholar lived in the kingdom for more than 10 years and had three kids. One day, when the scholar visited his father in law, the king, and saw him and other ministers all looked sorrowful. The king wept and explained, “our country is in danger. Nobody but you can save us.” The scholar said, “I would sacrifice my life to save the country.”
The king asked people prepared the ship and sent two people to go with the scholar and said, “please visit the dragon king in the Sea and tell him the Kingdom of Long beard on the tenth island in the third region of the East Sea 东海 is in danger. Our kingdom is too tiny. Please don’t give up until they agreed to help.” The king held the scholar’s hands for so long before letting him go.
The scholar got on the ship. Not too long, the ship landed on the coast. The sand on the coast was made of treasures. He didn’t stop or was afraid but walked to see the dragon king directly. The dragon king couldn’t believe that a human came here and met with him. The scholar repeated everything he was told. The dragon king immediately asked people to see what was going on in the kingdom. After a while, a servant came back and replied, “there isn’t such a kingdom in our region of the sea.” The scholar begged the dragon king to search more and repeated the exact location again. After a meal’s time, the servant was back and said, “the shrimps from this island are feast for your Majesty. They were sent here the day before. ” The dragon king laughed, “oh I see. My dear guest was bewitched by those shrimps. Although I am the dragon king, but I can’t eat whatever I want. But today for your sake, I can eat less. ”
The scholar was taken to tens of iron pots as large as a room and they are all filled with shrimps. In one of the pots, there were five or six huge red shrimps with the size of a human’s arm. They jumped around when they saw the scholar like asking for help. “This is the shrimp king.” The scholar was told. His memories all came back of the past 10 years on the island and started to weep.
The dragon king freed the shrimps from the pot of the shrimp king and asked two people to sent the scholar back to the Tang dynasty. After a night, he was back to his hometown and the two people transformed to two dragons and flew away.
酉阳杂俎 Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang