Campaign of the Month: February 2017
The Shen god of fire and the sky
Nezha is the boy-god of fire and the sky, a youth of a tender age who nevertheless wields enormous destructive power. Temperamental, impulsive, and somewhat prone to playing pranks, he is a fiery personality and his moods are as mercurial as the fire he represents. Nezha is well-known as a warrior and a force of destruction, and he has been known to use his power over the winds to occasionally benefit mankind, though he is often more likely to blow up a storm or frighten the populace with unfettered winds. Though he is as old as some of the other gods of the Bureaucracy, in some ways he remains a child, and the other gods keep a wary eye on his antics.
When Lady Yin became pregnant, she found to her dismay that her time came and went and still she did not give birth; she was pregnant for three and a half long years before she was finally able to deliver her child. When she did, it was not a baby but a smooth, round ball of flesh; thinking that it must be a demon who had occupied his wife’s womb, Li Jing struck the ball with his sword, but when it was cloven in two Nezha sprang out, a full-grown boy of fourteen who could speak and walk immediately, much to the amazement of his parents.
Nezha and the Dragon King
Nezha began to make a habit of playing roughly in the rivers near his house, shaking the waters and earth so that the vibrations were felt even in the undersea palace of the Dragon King. Irritated by the commotion, the Dragon King sent his general, Li Gen, to confront Nezha and ask him to stop the violent shaking. When Li Gen took Nezha to task for his actions, however, Nezha insulted him and mocked him, calling him a dog who obeyed his dragon master. Enraged, Li Gen attacked him with a steel trident but was struck dead by Nezha’s magical bracelet.
When he heard what had happened, the Dragon King’s anger was terrible and he sent his son, the rain god Ao Bing, to stop Nezha. When Ao Bing arrived, he shouted to Nezha in rage, but Nezha denied any responsibility and retorted that he was not sorry that he had killed Li Gen. The two embarked upon a duel, and though they were more evenly matched, eventually Nezha scorched Ao Bing with a great fireball and then smashed his head in with his foot. In death, Ao Bing reverted to his true form as a dragon, and the people of the countryside fled in fear when they realized what had happened.
Nezha thought this was fine sport, but the Dragon King rose up out of the oceans and flooded the countryside, bellowing in rage; he ascended to heaven and brought his suit before the Jade Emperor himself, demanding a trial. The Emperor agreed, but when Nezha was brought there for the trial he attacked the Dragon King and beat him so severely that he bled, and he was forced to flee from heaven before the trial had concluded. In revenge, he flooded the countryside again and threatened to kill Nezha’s parents; seeing that his helpless parents might die because of his behavior, Nezha finally repented, flayed himself alive and disemboweled himself to avert the Dragon King’s anger. Moved by his dedication, the Dragon King spared Li Jing and Lady Yin.
Nezha and Li Jing
Li Jing was greatly incensed by all the trouble and heartbreak Nezha had caused his family and the people of the countryside; his wife, Lady Yin, had built a shrine to Nezha’s memory, and in his wrath Li Jing burned it down. Nezha’s ghost was so angered by this action that he reincarnated himself and came home, where his father, horrified to see him return, rejected him and told him to cause no more trouble. Nezha leaped on his father and attacked him, but Li Jing soon realized that his son possessed godly power and fled from him, wounded nearly unto death. As he ran he came across his second son, Muzha, Nezha’s older brother, and told him what had happened; furious that his brother would treat their father so, Muzha waited for Nezha to appear in pursuit and exchanged harsh words with him, refusing to allow him to continue on and finally duelling him to prevent him from chasing Li Jing. Though he fought valiantly, Nezha crushed him beneath a golden brick and continued to chase after his father. Li Jing, seeing his second son defeated, attempted to take his own life, but a great and wise sage interceded and instead offered Li Jing sanctuary in his cave, preventing Nezha from following him. He bestowed upon him a magical golden tower to carry on his back, and taught him to use it to control Nezha, for it was the one object in the world that could contain him; thereafter, Nezha was forced to treat his father with respect lest he be imprisoned.