Zhuque was the bird of fire, a mythological beast of the ancient times. Legend has it that, in a war fought between Gods and Demons in the distant past, the sun-loving Gods created a bird of scorching heat and light so as to see the battlefield clearly at night. Surrounded by fire elements, Zhuque obeyed the orders, setting alight the woodlands to force out hiding enemies with blazing flames. However, the Gods only cared about creating the bird and never intended to bring it back with them to Heaven. When the Gods retreated, Zhuque was left in the realm of men. Every night, it would set forests ablaze to turn them into its nest. When the fire burned out in the morning, it would fly off into the kindled sky in solitude, looking for its next luxurious bed.

    n order to protect the nature, the ancient ascetics tamed the Zhuque together. They deprived it of its power, transforming the powerful beast into a mere baby bird. The ascetics took it in and fostered it for generations, passing it down until the war between Gods and Demons erupted again. Young Hermit of Searing Blazes was given the task of taking care of the baby bird when he first became an ascetic. He grew up alongside the little bird. Every time when winter came, the little bird would shiver with the intense cold, and the young ascetic would light up the fire pit in secret and harbor the bird in the warmth of it. Later, the Hermit of Searing Blazes disregarded others’ opposition and left with Zhuque. The two then headed towards Afire Volcano, where they refined their power and skills together. The Hermit of Searing Blazes injected Zhuque once again with the element of fire, allowing it to regain its former power. Zhuque mastered its power after spending so long living amongst humans. Even when people embraced its flaming body, they would only feel warmth instead of getting burnt. The two fended off evil with flames and other ascetics called them “the Sage of the South”, one of the “Four Sages”.

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