Even after losing his reward, a hero continues to assist others. Chang’e and her husband Hou Yi lived during the dynasty of Emperor Yao. They were very kind and always helped others.
One day, all of a sudden, there appeared nine suns in the sky. It was very hot and the Earth seemed to be burning. People were dying, plants and vegetables were scorched, and the rivers dried up. At the same time, the demons and monsters that lived in the mountains and rivers came out to harm the people.
Hou Yi was very sad to see the people suffering. He wanted to help. He thus said goodbye to his beloved wife Chang’e and embarked on a journey to find the fabled magic bow and arrows.
He climbed past 81 mountains, waded across 81 rivers, and passed through 81 valleys. After an arduous journey, he finally found the Queen Mother of the West in the Kunlun Mountains. The Queen Mother of the West gave him the fabled magic golden bow and a bag of silver arrows. He then knelt down in front of the Queen Mother to express his gratitude.
When he returned, he used the magic bow and arrows to shoot down eight of the suns. The Earth then thrived again — lush greenery reappeared on the mountains, farmers were able to harvest their fields, and people resumed their happy lives.
The Queen Mother of the West rewarded Hou Yi’s selflessness with a jug of “elixir of life” that, when consumed, allows people to live forever. Hou Yi then brought the elixir home to his wife and said:
“Both of us would be able to live and love each other forever. Now, you drink half of the elixir and leave the other half for me.”
Chang’e did just what her husband asked and she felt dazed right away. She then handed the remaining portion to her husband, but it fell to the ground and spilled. Hou Yi was very angry and blamed her for the accident. He then left to hunt for food.
When he came back, he could not find Chang’e. He rushed out of the house and saw that his wife was already drifting toward the moon. Hou Yi was filled with sadness. He felt that after going through many difficulties and finally having success, what waited for him was actually not happiness and love, but separation.
Although deeply grieved, Hou Yi persevered in being selfless and helping others.