Suzaku, High King of the South
Suzaku is the phoenix High King of the South. His appearance was inspired by the film version of Fawkes, the phoenix of Professor Dumbledore from Harry Potter. Even then, I always saw phoenixes are more hawk-like than other versions. Suzaku is said to be the most beautiful of his kind. His second, Royeren, joked in the pilot story that looking on the King could render someone blind. Suzaku is closest to Seiryu out of the Four. They all refer to each other as Brother but Seiryu and Suzaku are definitely the best of friends. Suzaku’s also known as the kindest out of the Four.
Suzaku is the strangest of the High Kings because of what he is. Being a phoenix means he goes through the life/death/rebirth cycle, making him eternally younger than his counterparts yet just as old as them. For most of history, Suzaku’s death and rebirth was fixed annually, mostly as a tool for humans to create a calender. His cycle was fixed by the Almighty after the Descent. After he was freed from that duty, he could choose his own time to die. His chosen time now is every twenty years. Towards the end of his life, Suzaku, like all phoenixes, looks utterly dreadful. After he goes up in flames, it can take anywhere from sixty seconds to five minutes for him to be reborn, depending on how well he died previously. The only time it took longer than five minutes for Suzaku to return was when he died a particularly violent death.
Suzaku’s only known violent death was during the Siege of Ganpon in the pilot story. He was fighting in that battle when he noticed that the anti-villain was aiming to kill Judge Krakatau and Anna with an arrow. Suzaku was compelled to fly in the arrow’s path and took it to the heart. His death resulted in his body glowing, followed by an immense explosion. To get a good scope of the intensity, think of Sauron’s death in the first few moments of the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring film. It took fifteen minutes for him to come back from that death. Since then, even though his fatal wound was healed by his rebirth, Suzaku often claims to still feel the wound in his heart. Likely because he had never been shot before. He had died in other ways aside from the natural cycle but nothing at that scale.
Unlike most storybook phoenixes, there is a way to permanently kill one of my own. It’s called the Eternal Death, a spell the Deceiver developed and later caused to float around for humans to use. It negates a phoenix’s ability to return from the dead. Signs of its use are obvious. Aside from the obvious fact that the victim doesn’t come back to life, a victim’s plumage goes from scarlet red to an ashy grey, symbolic of their eternal fire going out forever. Allow me to delve into Suzaku’s history so we can get an idea of what this spell is.
In the beginning, unlike all other animals, the Almighty created just one phoenix, Ho-oh (more commonly called Fenghuang). Many legends say that phoenixes embody both male and female. I used that idea for my own mythos as well. However, after the Descent, the Almighty split Ho-oh in two. Ho became Suzaku while Oh remained known by that name. They became as siblings. Oh was supernaturally implanted with eggs to jump start the Phoenix Nation. Five hundred years later, Suzaku came to his sister side. He found Oh dead on the ground below her tree home. Her plumage was ashy grey and her wings were spread out, indicating she had been killed while on the ground, likely in her human form. Her death reverted her back.
Her death confused Suzaku who didn’t understand why she didn’t come back to life. Death as we know it is a foreign concept to a phoenix. They can’t wrap their minds around it. Since their cycle is all they ever knew, that’s understandable. Even after six thousand years of watching his mortal friends age and die, Suzaku still can’t imagine what it’s like to die and not come back. Since Oh’s death, several other phoenixes have been permanently been killed by the Eternal Death. The last known casualty was a phoenix servant named Cara who took the spell for the King when he was threatened with it. Unlike other victims, her death was a bit slower, likely because it was an alchemist (a human) who used it and alchemists aren’t likely practitioners of magic. All the same, Cara died and didn’t come back.
Like all phoenixes, Suzaku has to spend a few months in a burning furnace every time he comes back to life after going through his cycle. Phoenixes naturally retain their memories from their “past lives” so Suzaku is still able to rule the South effectively, even as a chick. The mark of his kingship is visible on his forehead when he first comes back because his fluffy down takes a while to grow after he comes back. Like all baby animals, Suzaku has been the subject of adoration from the female population every time he comes back and grows his down.
Back when he was helping humans create a calender, Suzaku would be taken to the Imperial Palace in Ganpon and placed on a pedestal for all to see. At the stroke of midnight, he would go up in flames and come back the next minute to signal the New Year. He would then be taken to a furnace to stay until he was big enough to be transferred back to his Castle. Now that that duty is over, Suzaku can now burn in the comforts of his home.
Suzaku’s main enemies are the Harpy Nation, even though he has a non-aggression pact with their Queen, Celaeno. I’ll delve into that at a later time.