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        “Lotus, get on!”

        “Don’t call me Lotus!” the girl yelled at her teacher discontentedly. She held the hermit’s hand tightly so that he could pull her up to Zhuque’s back. The bird flapped its wings and took off. They shook off the evil three-headed dog chasing behind them and escaped after they had successfully captured the power of burning lava. The feeble Hermit of Searing Blazes was coughing illy. He was supplying Zhuque with the power of his own life.

         “Sir! Please use the power of burning lava to...”

         “No!” he rejected firmly, “Zhuque needs it more than I do!”

        Being the apprentice of the old man, the girl had prepared to inherit the responsibilities and the title of the hermit. Nonetheless, whenever she saw her mentor in pain, she would be upset. She did not think that he had to sacrifice his life for the bird. If the hermit had not saved her when she was deserted by villagers in the wilderness as an offering to the god of the mountain, she would have been devoured by wild beasts. Therefore, she had prepared to sacrifice herself...

        ‘The seven orifices of Xian allow the free flow of power and the inflow and outflow of their pneuma followed the law of nature; mortals refine their power by opening their orifices forcibly, so they are engulfed and killed by the chaos of energy.’ During the war between Gods and Demons, the Gods travelled through the realm of Human and formed numerous ties with people. The wild beasts resided in the realm were benefited by the godly powers in different extents. The Beasts’ orifices were not like those of the Xian as the animality within them could never be eradicated. As a result, those beasts which did not have the full control of their power became disasters for the realm of Human. Ascetics captured these beasts and deprived them of their power, so that it would not be a danger to the people.

        In the past, Zhuque was imprisoned in a sanctuary on Vulture Peak for it was deprived of its power. The first Hermit of Searing Blazes did not have the heart to see it suffer, so he escaped with the bird. The hermit and his successors spent their whole lives to collect the energy of fire elements in order to restore Zhuque’s power. However, the animality of the beast could never be restrained, it kept consuming energy rapidly and ascetics had no choice but to sacrifice their own lives in order to feed the bird. The apprentice of the last Hermit of Searing Blazes allowed herself to be engulfed by Zhuque so that she could construct a circulation of energy inside the bird. As a result, the bird’s power no longer leaked out, but the bird rampaged for the accumulation of fire elements. In fear of losing control of Zhuque, the Hermit of Searing Blazes did what his apprentice had done. He merged himself with Zhuque, so that they were connected together ever since.

        The mighty Zhuque were praised by ascetics. Entitled “the Vermilion Bird”, Zhuque was honored as one of the “Five Venerated Wardens”.

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