| The Stones Of Five Colors And The Empress Jokwa |
HIKUYU THEN PLACED himself at the head of thirty thousand soldiers, and with Hako and Eiko showing him the way, marched to the enemy's castle. The Fire King knew the secret of Kokai's power, and he now told all the soldiers to gather a certain kind of shrub. This they burned in large quantities, and each soldier was then ordered to fill a bag full of the ashes thus obtained.
Kokai, on the other hand, in his own conceit, thought that Shikuyu was of inferior power to himself, and he murmured angrily:
"Even though you are the Fire King, I can soon extinguish you."
Then he repeated an incantation, and the water-floods rose and welled as high as mountains. Shikuyu, not in the least frightened, ordered his soldiers to scatter the ashes which he had caused them to make. Every man did as he was bid, and such was the power of the plant that they had burned, that as soon as the ashes mingled with the water a stiff mud was formed, and they were all safe from drowning.
Now Kokai the wizard was dismayed when he saw that the Fire King was superior in wisdom to himself, and his anger was so great that he rushed headlong towards the enemy.
Eiko rode to meet him, and the two fought together for some time. They were well matched in a hand-to-hand combat. Hako, who was carefully watching the fray, saw that Eiko began to tire, and fearing that his companion would be killed, he took his place.
But Kokai had tired as well, and feeling him self unable to hold out against Hako, he said artfully:
"You are too magnanimous, thus to fight for your friend and run the risk of being killed. I will not hurt such a good man."
And he pretended to retreat, turning away the head of his horse. His intention was to throw Hako off his guard and then to wheel round and take him by surprise.
But Shikuyu understood the wily wizard, and he spoke at once:
"You are a coward! You cannot deceive me!"
Saying this, the Fire King made a sign to the unwary Hako to attack him. Kokai now turned upon Shikuyu furiously, but he was tired and unable to fight well, and he soon received a wound in his shoulder. He now broke from the fray and tried to escape in earnest.
While the fight between their leaders had been going on the two armies had stood waiting for the issue. Shikuyu now turned and bade Jokwa's soldiers charge the enemy's forces. This they did, and routed them with great slaughter, and the wizard barely escaped with his life.
It was in vain that Kokai called upon the Water Devil to help him, for Shikuyu knew the counter-charm. The wizard found that the battle was against him. Mad with pain, for his wound began to trouble him, and frenzied with disappointment and fear, he dashed his head against the rocks of Mount Shu and died on the spot.
There was an end of the wicked Kokai, but not of trouble in the Empress Jokwa's Kingdom, as you shall see. The force with which the wizard fell against the rocks was so great that the mountain burst, and fire rushed out from the earth, and one of the pillars upholding the Heavens was broken so that one corner of the sky dropped till it touched the earth.
Shikuyu, the Fire King, took up the body of the wizard and carried it to the Empress Jokwa, who rejoiced greatly that her enemy was vanquished, and her generals victorious. She showered all manner of gifts and honors upon Shikuyu.
But all this time fire was bursting from the mountain broken by the fall of Kokai. Whole villages were destroyed, rice-fields burnt up, river beds filled with the burning lava, and the homeless people were in great distress. So the Empress left the capital as soon as she had rewarded the victor Shikuyu, and journeyed with all speed to the scene of disaster. She found that both Heaven and earth had sustained damage, and the place was so dark that she had to light her lamp to find out the extent of the havoc that had been wrought.
Having ascertained this, she set to work at repairs. To this end she ordered her subjects to collect stones of five colors--blue, yellow, red, white and black. When she had obtained these, she boiled them with a kind of porcelain in a large caldron, and the mixture became a beautiful paste, and with this she knew that she could mend the sky. Now all was ready.
Summoning the clouds that were sailing ever so high above her head, she mounted them, and rode heavenwards, carrying in her hands the vase containing the paste made from the stones of five colors. She soon reached the corner of the sky that was broken, and applied the paste and mended it. Having done this, she turned her attention to the broken pillar, and with the legs of a very large tortoise she mended it. When this was finished she mounted the clouds and descended to the earth, hoping to find that all was now right, but to her dismay she found that it was still quite dark. Neither the sun shone by day nor the moon by night.
Greatly perplexed, she at last called a meeting of all the wise men of the Kingdom, and asked their advice as to what she should do in this dilemma.
Two of the wisest said:
"The roads of Heaven have been damaged by the late accident, and the Sun and Moon have been obliged to stay at home. Neither the Sun could make his daily journey nor the Moon her nightly one because of the bad roads. The Sun and Moon do not yet know that your Majesty has mended all that was damaged, so we will go and inform them that since you have repaired them the roads are safe."
The Empress approved of what the wise men suggested, and ordered them to set out on their mission. But this was not easy, for the Palace of the Sun and Moon was many, many hundreds of thousands of miles distant into the East. If they traveled on foot they might never reach the place, they would die of old age on the road. But Jokwa had recourse to magic. She gave her two ambassadors wonderful chariots which could whirl through the air by magic power a thousand miles per minute. They set out in good spirits, riding above the clouds, and after many days they reached the country where the Sun and the Moon were living happily together.
The two ambassadors were granted an interview with their Majesties of Light and asked them why they had for so many days secluded themselves from the Universe? Did they not know that by doing so they plunged the world and all its people into uttermost darkness both day and night?
Replied the Sun and the Moon:
"Surely you know that Mount Shu has suddenly burst forth with fire, and the roads of Heaven have been greatly damaged! I, the Sun, found it impossible to make my daily journey along such rough roads--and certainly the Moon could not issue forth at night! so we both retired into private life for a time."
Then the two wise men bowed themselves to the ground and said:
"Our Empress Jokwa has already repaired the roads with the wonderful stones of five colors, so we beg to assure your Majesties that the roads are just as they were before the eruption took place."
But the Sun and the Moon still hesitated, saying that they had heard that one of the pillars of Heaven had been broken as well, and they feared that, even if the roads had been remade, it would still be dangerous for them to sally forth on their usual journeys.
"You need have no anxiety about the broken pillar," said the two ambassadors. "Our Empress restored it with the legs of a great tortoise, and it is as firm as ever it was."
Then the Sun and Moon appeared satisfied, and they both set out to try the roads. They found that what the Empress's deputies had told them was correct.