The Phoenix and the Bear King

The Phoenix and the Bear King as told by Ezra

Long ago, a group of people settled in a small valley at the foot of a huge mountain. The settlers knew that a strong fire spirit lived there, and believed living in its shadow would bring fortune to their crops and protection for their village.

However, the forest around the village was stalked by a Bear King. When he came across the village, he strutted into the center and announced who he was with flourishes and great bellowing roars. The Bear King demanded all beings to bow before him and threatened to devour any creature who did not. Many of the villagers, afraid of the powerful Bear King, bowed before him and brought him the best food and finest drinks. Satisfied, the Bear King left, but warned he would be back every month to make sure the villagers remained loyal.

Years passed, and these monthly visits were difficult on the villagers, for the land around the mountain was poor and they struggled to raise good crops. Eventually, the young people of the village, desperate to make a better life for them and help the village, chose to pray to the fire spirit in the mountain for help growing their crops. The fire spirit visited the young villagers in their dreams and told them that once, long before the villagers had come, the Bear King had come to the mountain and demanded the fire spirit’s fealty. But fire spirits are free things, and it would not bow before the Bear King. Enraged, the Bear King attacked the fire spirit, but fire spirits are made of nothing more solid than smoke and dreams. Since the Bear King could not devour the fire spirit, he became hateful of the mountain and the spirit inside. He left the mountain, but in his anger, the Bear King cursed the mountain and all the lands around it so that nothing would want to live there.

The young villagers begged the fire spirit to chase the Bear King away and break the curse so their crops would thrive. The fire spirit finally relented, but knew it could not fight the Bear King as a spirit. So it required the villagers to select one of their own to give the fire spirit a body to fight the Bear King. The village chose the most beautiful young maiden, Phoen, whose voice was as a song and whose dance was light and graceful like a soaring bird. Phoen was sent up the mountain alone as a sacrifice to the fire spirit. She made the climb proudly, knowing that her life would save her village.

The fire spirit took Phoen and remade her into the Phoenix, a Fire Bird of inspiring beauty and breathtaking power. The Phoenix soared high into the sky, relishing the new body and the freedom to explore the skies, and for a moment, forgetting about the village far below. When the villagers saw this, one of the elders was terrified and fled the village to tell the Bear King, begging for his forgiveness. Enraged, the Bear King devoured the elder on the spot and then came to the village to destroy it. As the Bear King tore apart homes with his powerful claws, and devoured villagers with a single gulp, they cried out for help. The Phoenix, soaring high in the sky, heard their cries and swooped down to help her friends.

The battle between the Bear King and the Phoenix lasted for days, splitting the heavens with lightning and shaking the ground. Great swaths of the forest were burned, and much of the village was destroyed. In the end, the Bear King threw a huge stone and knocked the Phoenix from the sky. She fell to the ground and the Bear King tracked her down to make sure she was dead. When he found her laying on the ground, he devoured the poor creature. Then, he returned to the village and demanded the remaining villagers serve him for a year and a day, bringing whatever he desired. Afraid of what the Bear might do if they denied him, the villagers worked day and night, starving themselves to bring him what he demanded.

The first day after the battle with the Phoenix, the Bear King complained of a terrible thirst, so the villagers emptied their well to satisfy him. The next day, the Bear King complained of an awful fever, so the villagers brought him fans and tried to cool him in a river. On the third day, the Bear King complained of a horrible pain in his belly. No sooner had he finished his complaint, that out of his chest burst the Phoenix, for she was infused with the fire spirit, and no one can truly kill a spirit. The Phoenix’s fiery feathers burned the Bear King to ash and in so doing, broke the curse he placed on the land.

It is said to this day, the village still prays to the fire spirit and the Phoenix for protection and good crops.

The Phoenix and the Bear King

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