Imperial Office of Supernatural Investigation,
Rumor and Superstition Department
in the second year of the glorious reign of Emperor Tianqi (1622 - ed.)
Ni Huan Shi wrote:Your humble servant offers utmost praise to His Refulgent Majesty's most worthy of ministers, and begs that Your Eminence spare a moment of your precious time to cast a glance over this unworthy missive.
Your servant was dispatched from the capital to this gods forsaken province in response to requests from the ignorant backwoods governor for assistance in the matter of alleged supernatural activity in the township of Kham Fau. The foolhardy populace would appear to have been deceived by unprincipalled charlatans into believing all manner of outdated superstitions relating to zombies, qing-shi, and other such nonsense. Your servant's mission was to debunk the activities of these criminals, present evidence of their theatrical activities to the incompetent governor, and raise taxes.
It is therefore with great trepidation that I must recount the activities which your most humble servant has seen with his own sorrow-begetting eyes. Please pardon your servant for any circumlocutions: did not Confucius say that a story must be told from the beginning?
The town of Kham Fau is cursed with not one, but two "Mystic Morticians" gulling the yokels out of good money to pay for their superstitious nonsense. Apparently there is not enough business for both of these greedy purveyors of gobbledegook: they are fighting over the rich pickings that Kham Fau's innocents afford them.
Your humble servant was watching a lackadaisical fellow by the name of Wu Qi, the assistant of one of the town's supposed "ghost slayers". This man, although admittedly blessed with a flawless physique and startlingly handsome, is nonetheless one of the laziest and most foolish louts your servant has ever observed, which is why the best place to oberve him was a wineshop. There his habitual method of procrastinating in his master's service was interrupted by the arrival of a newcomer, one Li Tu, claiming to be a "corpse escort", come to replace the services of the town's previous escort. (The wretch who used to occupy this position is now a notorious drunk, probably filled with remorse at the shameless way he stole from the locals.)
When Wu Qi's si-fu arrived, one Master Li, the idle assistant was sent packing to fetch sticky rice - allegedly a sovereign remedy for dealing with the undead. Preposterous. Your servant followed Wu Qi to the rice seller, where he was accosted by a significantly larger man with most impressive Khaw-dao.
It is here that your servant's suspicions that all is not what it seems in Khaw Fau were first aroused, for the apparently worthless apprentice proved to be a formidable fighter, and soundly drubbed his bull-like opponent. Your servant was most impressed by a flawless execution of "Field Mouse Climbs Grass Stalk", and then a remarkable impromptu technique your servant has taken the outrageous liberty of dubbing "Stunning Wind of Small Grains". In no time, the apprentice was standing over the unconscious form of the aggressor, insulting the rice seller's daughter and receiving a dressing-down from his long-suffering master.
It may seem to the worthy reader that such a display is no great matter, but your servant presumes to assert that such power is rarely displayed in one so handsome, or so indolent. It should also be noted that your servant was able to infer Wu Qi's prowess in the bedchamber from the length of time he spent in a nearby brothel and some of the extended and very indelicate sounds that issued therefrom.
Here, the report scroll is torn, after a note in the margin exclaims: the author is clearly a reprobate scoundrel, and must be punished. File under 'Works of Fictitious Nonsense By Disgraced Operatives Subsequently Put To The Torture And Fed To Crocodiles'. No more is known of Ni Huan Shi, but there are other sources that recount the adventures of Assistant Ghost Slayer Wu Qi.