Summary and Analysis
Tripitaka makes Monkey suffer from the spell while Pigsy eggs him on in Chapter 21, until Monkey goes on his cloud-trapeze spell to Lao Tzu for a grain of his Nine times Sublimated Life Restoring Elixir. Pigsy and Tripitaka mourn the king, while Monkey convinces Lao Tzu that he is not the same troublesome creature he was 500 years ago. After hearing the king's story, Lao Tzu laughs at Monkey's request for a thousand grains of the elixir, and grants him just one pill, as Monkey hoped. He successfully revives the king after giving him the elixir and breathing in his mouth. They all travel back to the city of Crow-cock, and the travelers go to the imposter to get their papers in order. Just as Monkey angers the false king, the prince arrives and lies, saying that the travelers were expected and foretold three years ago. Monkey reveals that their fourth companion is the true king and the imposter runs away on a cloud. Monkey follows and fights him, until the imposter turns himself into Tripitaka causing Monkey to pause until the real one begins to recite the headache spell, while the imposter simply mumbles. Pigsy and Sandy attack the imposter, with Monkey about to deliver the final blow when the Bodhisattva Manjusri arrives and takes the imposter back. It is revealed that the imposter was sent explicitly by Buddha and is actually Manjusri's lion. Buddha did this after the true king left Manjusri in a well for three days.
In Chapter 22 the true king has doubts about his right to return to his position after three years, and offers his throne to the travelers, all of who refuse. The four pilgrims continue their journey and hear a loud noise, which Monkey discovers is the sound of enslaved Buddhist priests building a temple on a cliff-side for the Taoists. Monkey disguises himself as a Taoist and learns that the city is run by three Immortals: Tiger Strength Immortal, Deer Strength immortal, and Ram Strength Immortal. The Taoist officials allow him to meet the Buddhist priests, as Monkey claims he is looking for a lost relation. He then derides the Buddhists for being so submissive and not running away, while they bewail their suffering. Monkey goes back to the officials and claims that all are his relations and demands that they all be released. When they refuse, Monkey kills them and reveals himself to the Buddhists, giving them his hair so that they may call upon him at any time if they are in danger. He brings them to Tripitaka, and in order to feed them, Monkey stirs up a great wind to disperse the Taoist worshippers, causing them to leave their offerings. However, a little Taoist forgot his hand bell in his fright, and upon returning for it, hears Pigsy laughing and is scared again. He runs and tells the Immortals and other Taoists, who go to the temple to investigate.
At the beginning of Chapter 23, Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy pose as the three Taoist deities, offering holy water to the priests before revealing it to be just their urine. The Taoist priests fly into a rage and tell the king of the pilgrims’ misdeeds, and the king decides to settle the matter by having a rainmaking contest between the Buddhists and Taoists. The Taoists go first and begin to have success, which Monkey interferes with by scaring those in charge of the wind, clouds, and thunder. When it is his turn, he is successful at producing rain, which the Taoists try to take credit for in front of the king. Monkey challenges them to produce the dragons, which they fail to do, while Monkey makes them materialize easily. The king gives reverence to these spirits.
In Chapter 24, the Taoists again challenge the Buddhists to a competition of meditation, eager to keep their power. Tripitaka takes on the challenge against the Tiger Strength Immortal. The Immortals throw a louse on Tripitaka's head, which Monkey removes and retaliates by turning himself into a centipede and crawling up the Taoist's nose, causing him to fall and lose. Deer Strength Immortal then challenges Tripitaka to guessing what is "behind the boards." With Monkey's aid in the form of a gnat, Tripitaka guesses correctly that there is an old cracked dish, a peach-stone, and a little Buddhist. The Taoists then challenge them to a competition of head-cutting, belly-ripping, and bathing in boiling oil. Monkey submits to the head-cutting and grows a new head when Deer Strength Immortal interferes with his old one. However, Deer Strength dies when he attempts this trick, as Monkey turns into a dog and places his head in the royal moat so that it does not come when called. After Monkey's success in the belly-ripping trial, the king again tries to hand the travelers their passports so that they leave, but the competition must continue. Deer Strength is unsuccessful in the belly-ripping as Monkey turns into a hawk and steals his guts as he is cleaning them. Monkey then faces the Ram Strength Immortal in oil bathing and performs the task without a hitch, purposely scaring his companions momentarily. The Ram Strength Immortal has a chilly dragon who cools the oil, but Monkey calls upon his friend the Dragon King of the Northern Ocean to take away this chilly dragon, revealing that the powers of the Immortal are the Five Thunder Methods and a few tricks, and so the Immortal dies without the chilly dragon's help.
Monkey snaps the king out of his mourning for the Immortals and a feast is subsequently held for all Buddhists in Chapter 25. Monkey asks the king to remember that "the Three Religions are one" as the travelers embark again on their journey. They reach the River that leads to Heaven, and go look for help in crossing it. The travelers hear the sound of Buddhist music and are treated to a feast as their benefactor tells the sad story of his daughter Load of Gold and his nephew War Boy, who are set to be sacrificed to the gods soon. Monkey changes himself and Pigsy into their exact replicas to trick the god and repay the old man for his kindness. Monkey and Pigsy finish a trial run just as the time of sacrifice approaches.