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Story of the Sacred Elephant

True, the Jade Emperor (the supreme deity of Taoism) was very fond of his celestial elephant. It was robust and mighty, and did a lot of jobs for the court, and therefore it was in Jade Emperor's good grace. No matter where the emperor went, either for an outing or for hunting, he always brought the elephant with him. Several times, the emperor met with danger, and as always, it was the elephant who came to his rescue. Therefore, the elephant became practically the emperor's protective talisman.

The Jade Emperor lived in his celestial palace for a long time, and he wished to go down earth for a change. One day, he came to Guilin with his royal entourage, the celestial elephant, the celestial horse the heavenly general and soldiers. Finding that the magnificent landscape, the fresh air and the temperate climate there were much better than those in heaven, they stayed in Guilin and had a wonderful time. Unsatisfied, they went further southwards. The scenery along the road was even more fascinating and beautiful. They were so swell-headed that they forgot practically everything.

After lavish feasts and merry making, they were all drunk, and when they returned to heaven, they found that the celestial elephant was missing. The heavenly general and his subordinates reported this to the emperor, who sent immediately some immortals down earth to fetch it. But the elephant was nowhere to be found. Finally, they found the elephant in Guilin. It came to pass that the elephant found the limpid waters, the green and delicate grass, and the thick forests in Guilin were just like what it was in its native country.

The general ordered the elephant to go back to heaven with him, but the elephant was unwilling to do so. It disobeyed the emperor's order and refused to go back. Much annoyed, the Jade Emperor sent heavenly troops to arrest it. Enraged, the elephant fought the heavenly troops valiantly for three days and nights. However, after intense fighting, the victory still hung in balance. Seeing that the situation was growing more and more unfavorable for the heavenly troops, the emperor came personally to fight with the elephant.

Still, he could not win either. But, after several days of intense fighting, the elephant was thirsty. It went to the riverside, wanting to drink some water. Just as the elephant was stretching his trunk into the water to drink, the emperor pulled out his sword and pierced at the elephant from its back right through to its heart. At this, the elephant metamorphosed into a stone elephant and its heroic posture was preserved at the Elephant Hill on earth. Also, as the legend goes, the Hilt Pagoda on the hill was actually the hilt of the Jade Emperor's sword.

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