Wang Shixiu: Fight with Dongting Fish Spirits

Discover the extraordinary tale of Wang Shixiu, who defeat fish spirits and reunited with his believed-deceased father

Wang Shixiu is a native of Luzhou. He was strong and brave, capable of lifting the stone mortar used for pounding rice. Both he and his father were skilled in playing football. Wang Shixiu’s father tragically perished in his forties while crossing the Qiantang River. Eight or nine years later, Wang Shixiu went to Hunan on business. One night, his boat anchored on the shores of Dongting Lake. As a full moon rose from the east, it cast a shimmering reflection on the clear lake, resembling a white silk ribbon.

While Wang Shixiu was gazing at the lake, he suddenly saw five people emerge from the water, carrying a large mat that they spread on the water’s surface, roughly half an acre in size. They arranged food and wine on the mat, and the clinking of utensils and glasses made gentle sounds, unlike the harsh noises of pottery or porcelain. After a while, three people sat on the mat and began drinking, while the other two stood by to serve them. Of the three seated, one was dressed in yellow, and the other two wore white clothes. They all wore tall, black turbans that covered their heads and extended down to their shoulders. This attire seemed quite peculiar and unusual, but due to the dim moonlight, it was difficult to see clearly.

The two attendants were dressed in brown, with one appearing to be a child and the other an elderly man. The person in the yellow attire spoke, saying, “The moonlight tonight is splendid enough to allow us to drink heartily.” One of the individuals in white replied, “Tonight’s scenery resembles the scene when the Sea God Guangli Wang hosted a banquet on Pear Blossom Island in the South Sea.” They encouraged each other to drink, raising their cups and indulging in a drinking contest. However, their voices gradually became softer, until they were completely inaudible. The boatmen on Wang Shixiu’s vessel, witnessing this, hid inside the boat, too frightened to move.

Wang Shixiu closely observed the elderly man standing there, who bore a striking resemblance to his father. However, when he heard the man speak, it was clear that the voice did not belong to his father. As the second watch of the night was about to end, suddenly, Wang Shixiu heard someone say, “With the bright moon overhead tonight, we should play a game of football for amusement.” Immediately, Wang Shixiu saw the young child dive into the water and retrieve a large round ball, about the size of two hands held together. The ball seemed to be filled with liquid mercury, transparent inside and out. The three seated individuals all stood up. The person in the yellow attire beckoned the elderly man who had been serving wine to come and play football together. With a single kick, the elderly man sent the ball soaring more than ten feet high into the air. The ball shone brilliantly in mid-air, making it impossible for anyone to keep their eyes open.

Suddenly, the ball swiftly flew from a distance and landed directly on the boat where Wang Shixiu was sitting. Wang Shixiu felt an itch in his toes and instinctively kicked the ball with force, only to find that this large ball was surprisingly light and soft. His kick was so powerful that it seemed to have punctured the ball. The ball soared over ten feet high, emitting some light as it fell. The light created a splendid rainbow in the night sky as it descended. Finally, with a sharp sound, the ball rapidly plunged into the water, much like a comet streaking across the sky and falling into the water. The water emitted a boiling sound, accompanied by a string of bubbles, and then it disappeared.

The people on the mat collectively shouted in anger, “Where did this stranger come from? He has ruined our enjoyment!” However, the elderly man chuckled and said, “Not bad, not bad. This kick was my family’s secret skill, the Meteoric Turn.” The person in white was very displeased with the elderly man’s casual attitude and angrily said, “We are all in high spirits, why are you so happy, old man? Quickly, join Little Crow and capture that arrogant fellow; otherwise, your thighs will meet the stick!” Seeing the situation, Wang Shixiu realized he couldn’t escape, so he stood at the bow of the boat, wielding a large knife, ready to face the impending confrontation.

In the blink of an eye, the young child and the elderly man, armed with weapons, were right in front of Wang Shixiu. As he focused his gaze, Wang Shixiu realized that the elderly man was indeed his father. He cried out loudly, “Dad! It’s me.” The elderly man was shocked and turned pale. Father and son locked eyes, filled with sorrow. Seeing this, the young child hurriedly turned back.

The elderly man said, “Son, you must hide quickly, or we’ll both die!” Before his words could settle, the three individuals from the mat had already boarded Wang Shixiu’s boat. These three had jet-black faces, and their eyes were larger than pomegranates. They grabbed the elderly man, intending to take him away. Wang Shixiu fiercely resisted, causing the boat to sway violently until the rope finally snapped. With a swift strike, Wang Shixiu severed the arm of one of the individuals in yellow attire, and he managed to escape. Another person in white attire charged at Wang Shixiu, who swiftly decapitated him. The head fell into the water, making a “gudong” sound before sinking.

Wang Shixiu had planned to cross the lake under the cover of darkness. Suddenly, he saw a massive mouth emerge from the water, as deep as a well, with lake water rushing toward its center, creating a deafening noise. The enormous mouth forcefully spouted a powerful water column, causing towering waves that seemed to touch the stars, and all the boats on the lake rocked violently. The people on Wang Shixiu’s boat were terrified.

Fortunately, there were two large stone drums on Wang Shixiu’s boat, each weighing over a hundred pounds. He lifted one of the stone drums and hurled it towards the gaping mouth in the lake. The lake water instantly roared like thunder, and then the waves gradually subsided. Wang Shixiu threw in another stone drum, and the lake surface immediately calmed down.

Wang Shixiu began to suspect that his father was a ghost, but the elderly man explained, “I never actually died. Back then, when nineteen of us drowned in the river, we were all devoured by demons. I was spared because of my football skills. The demons offended the Water God of the Qiantang River, so they moved to Dongting Lake to hide. Those three are fish spirits, and they were playing with fish bladders.”

Father and son rejoiced in their reunion and set off in the boat in the middle of the night. When daylight came, they noticed a large fish fin in the boat, about four to five feet thick, realizing it was the arm of the yellow-clad fish spirit they had severed during the night.



汪细审侍者,叟酷类父,而听其言,又非父声。二漏将残,忽一人曰:“趁此明月,宜一击毬为乐。”即见僮汲水中,取一圆出,大可盈抱,中如水银满贮,表里通明。坐者尽起。黄衣人呼叟共蹴之,蹴起丈馀,光摇摇射人眼。俄而 然远起,飞堕舟中。汪技痒,极力踏去,觉异常轻软。踏猛似破,腾寻丈,中有漏光,下射如虹,蚩然疾落,又如经天之彗,直投水中,滚滚作沸泡声而灭。席中共怒曰:“何物生人,败我清兴!”叟笑曰:“不恶不恶,此吾家流星拐也。”白衣人嗔其语戏,怒曰:“都方厌恼,老奴何得作欢?便同小乌皮捉得狂子来,不然,胫股当有椎吃也!”汪计无所逃,即亦不畏,捉刀立舟中。


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