Great mountains crumbled and crashed into the swelling muddy rivers. Gong showed no mercy as thousands of people and animals perished on the soggy, bloated earth.
The other gods avoided Gong because his fury was so intense. They watched silently as their moats, villages, and temples were destroyed, one by one.
Finally, Zurong, the fire god, decided that Gong had gone too far. Zurong was irritated by the other gods’ cowardice, and he did not approve of his successor’s plans to reshape the earth into water-heavy proportions.
So Zurong challenged Gong to regain control of the earth. Gong gladly met his rival in combat. As the two powerful forces wrestled each other across the firmament, the sky shook with thunder, and lightning flashed across the sky. For days, they grappled, wrestled, and pinned each other higher and higher in the skies until they finally cracked the dome of heaven.
When neither god could gain control, Gong challenged Zurong to restage their battle on earth. Zurong gladly accepted the challenge. Gong swept down to earth, placing legions of his strongest soldiers on a floating raft made of bamboo reeds.
It was ablaze with flags, drums, and the cries of a thousand battle-thirsty men. The raft surged across the water, sending jagged waves breaking across the sea. Huge sprays of seafoam bubbled and frothed around the raft.
Zurong placed himself strategically in the path of Gong’s warriors. As Gong’s battle raft approached, Zurong blasted forth a huge, towering pillar of fire. The leaping flames were sucked into the hollow cores of the raft’s bamboo poles, which burst into flame, plunging Gong’s soldiers to their watery deaths.
Gong jumped off the burning raft and dove down into the sea. Quickly, the water god called forth all his loyal subjects: the giant turtles, shrimp, crabs, and lobsters of the waters. Out of the deep sea, monsters rose with huge horns and wings like bats.
The water god smiled as he surveyed his mighty forces. Unlike his human army, these water warriors had their own protective armor. They lived in the sea and could not die by drowning. At Gong’s command, they stirred up waves as high as mountains to quell the fire god.
Gong cried to his rival, "You cannot win this war. I am the superior force. Admit it!"
Although Zurong had no one on hand to help him, he retorted, "No, you will never be the superior force; you are nothing more than a cowardly tyrant." Then Zurong whirled and drew up all his strength. He inhaled every particle of heat, spark, and ember in his being, and blew out a blast of fire at the rebel warriors. The heat of his flames scorched and burned the sea creatures to cinders inside their own armor. The sea became a floating mass of grit, shell, and ash.
The mighty Gong was defeated, his army dead or dispersed. All the gods rejoiced in Gong’s defeat. Humiliated, Gong fled to the west until he reached the Buzhow Mountain. In his rage, he rammed his head into the pinnacle. His blow splintered off the sharp mountain peak and sent it flying upward, punching a huge hole in the sky.
The dome of heaven, already fractured from the gods wrestling match, now cracked into a thousand fissures surrounding the gaping hole. At once, deadly creatures from beyond the heavens swooped down through the darkness to descend upon the earth.
At the same time, the force of Gong's blow split open the crust of the earth. Exploding mountains spewed forth hot rocks to scorch the land. Liquid fire oozed from every crevice, and smoke belched from the cracked ground.
While the unsteady earth rocked and lurched, forest fires raged, and mountain lakes burst their containing walls, sending more debris to the shattered villages below. All the gods, including Zurong, were stunned. But they were powerless to save their collapsing world.
As Nuwa watched the destruction taking place on earth, the goddess became furious. She raced to find rocks of five sacred colors - black, white, red, green, and yellow - and smelted them together in a huge bonfire. Using this sacred mixture, she began bit by bit to mend the hole in the sky.
All the while, she cursed at the carelessness of the gods who had caused this devastation. Next, Nuwa scooped up miles and miles of river rushes and stuffed up every burning crack she could find. As their ashes settled in the crevices, the earth subsided. Nuwa ripped up more river rushes, willows, and branches to dam the bursting rivers. The waters, too, slowed down to a rumble and then flowed smoothly and swiftly to the sea.
Then Nuwa salvaged the huge legs of a dead warrior turtle to hold up the sky, like pillars, in the four corners of the world. As she propped up the northwest corner, however, the earth tilted up in the west and slipped down low in the east, and try as she might, she was unable to level the sky.
Finally, Nuwa lashed together twelve bamboo reeds to make a flute. She shaped the instrument like the tail of the phoenix, the bird of peace. She taught the people to blow through the flute to create clear, soothing notes, and she told the people to have heart, for music from a bamboo flute can vanquish all fears.
Because of the carelessness of the gods, the unquiet earth still suffers and occasionally rumbles and breaks. Forever after, heaven and earth are tilted toward the northwest. That is why the moon and stars move in that direction and why the rivers of China plunge downward across the country to spill into the eastern sea.
Label: chinese mythology