When the nation is threatened with destruction, opening the portal from another world a young girl shall appear to gain the power of the Suzaku.
Junior high students and best friends Yuuki Miaka and Hongo Yui encounter a mysterious book, THE FOUR GODS OF THE EARTH AND SKY, while at the library. The opening lines of the book explain that it is the legendary story of a young girl transported to a faraway land, and that it is also an incantation to make the story real. Once they read past this introduction, they are instantly transported into the world of the book, ancient China. They are accosted by a small band of ruffians only to be rescued by a charming young man, who almost immediately asks for payment in return. Since they are modern Japanese students, they certainly do not have the appropriate payment. As Miaka watches him walk away in disappointment, Yui disappears and is transported back to the modern world, whereupon she resumes reading the book.
Yui quickly realizes that Miaka is actually experiencing the events she is reading about in the book. She gradually comes to realize that she is magically linked to Miaka, but does not understand why. When she reads about a wound that Miaka suffers, Yui is shocked to discover blood on her own clothing; when Miaka becomes sick, Yui also suffers the fever. Miaka, left alone and not knowing that Yui is back safe in the present, desperately searches for her missing friend. In the process, she is once again rescued by the young man, Tamahome, whom she accuses of kidnapping Yui. After she cajoles Tamahome into helping her find Yui, they are captured by the emperor’s men when Miaka boldly and stupidly approaches his imperial entourage asking for some of the emperor’s money. In doing so, Miaka trips and falls over the guards while chasing the emperor’s coach. But, rather than suffer some ignominious fate, Miaka is eventually recognized by the emperor, Hotohori, as Suzaku no Miko, the legendary savior and protectress of the country.
To return home, Miaka must gain the power of Suzaku, the god of the southern sky, which means she must assemble the seven seishi of Suzaku and then perform a summoning ceremony using the scroll of THE FOUR GODS OF THE EARTH AND SKY. If the ceremony
is successful and Suzaku appears, Suzaku no Miko will be granted the power to fulfill three wishes. Tamahome and Hotohori are the first two Suzaku seishi; with their help, Miaka must find the other five.
Romantic complications help propel the story. A triangle soon arises between Miaka, Tamahome, and Hotohori. These relationships are further complicated by the introduction of a third seishi, Nuriko. Nuriko is a recently arrived court princess, who has her own inclinations toward Hotohori, as well as some more private surprises. That she finds herself competing for the handsome emperor’s attention with this strange newcomer does not make for a good start to their relationship. At the outset, Nuriko mercilessly persecutes Miaka and tries to seduce Tamahome to make Miaka jealous. Once she sees that Miaka is drawn toward Tamahome over Hotohori, she is able to treat her more appropriately, though she still teases Miaka the most out of all her seishi.
Yui is also developing feelings for Tamahome, no doubt in partial concordance with Miaka’s own feelings. When a gravely ill Miaka temporarily returns to the modern world, Yui finds herself drawn into the book, only she appears in Kutou country, which is currently warring against Konan. She is also assaulted, but her rescuer is the manipulative and devious Nakago. To say that Nakago is the complete opposite of Tamahome is an understatement, and his manipulations of Yui, combined with her own feelings for Tamahome, drive her to become Seiryuu no Miko and directly oppose her best friend.
THE FOUR GODS OF THE EARTH AND SKY is an allusion to the Chinese mythos which divides the earth and sky into four domains based on the four cardinal directions and the Chinese ancient elements. Each domain is represented by three of the twelve signs of the Chinese horoscope, and each of the four sections of the sky contains seven constellations representing the seven seishi of the corresponding god.
|Suzaku||south||fire||summer||red peacock or phoenix|
There is also a fifth element, metal, which represents the center. Unlike Western and Middle Eastern cultures, China does not have an air or wind element.
Since the orientation of the stars has not changed much in the last thousand years, it should come as no surprise that there is great overlap between the 28 star patterns of the Universe of the Four Gods and the more familiar western zodiac. Indeed, only Leo and Pisces are not represented. In modern parlance, Suzaku’s section of the sky is the Hydra Region, with five of the seven seishi actually sitting in the star patterns of the ancient Hydra (and three in the modern Hydra).
The two illustrations here show the patterns which represent the seven Suzaku seishi. The first, with Miaka in the center, is a stylized map of the Suzaku region, with Chichiri in the east (the top), followed by Tamahome, and the remaining five in the Hydra Region, terminating with Chiriko. The second is simply a cross-reference to map each seishi with his or her corresponding pattern. Savvy skywatchers may be able to match Tamahome to the faint Cancer, Mitsukake to Corvus, or, more impressively, remap the lines of Chichiri to the more familiar Gemini. The character guide references all 28 star patterns.