Upon Si Yin’s return to Kunlun Mountain, the first thing she did was run giddily to her Shifu’s personal room. She wanted her Shifu to know that not only was she not late, she was actually right on time. This was a rarity that she wanted recognized.
Mo Yuan was in the middle of changing his robe for Ye Hua’s ceremony when Si Yin came barging into his room without knocking. Mo Yuan’s bare chest was slightly exposed as Si Yin startled him by suddenly charging through the door. Stunned, Mo Yuan turned around and was about to scold Seventeen but bit back his words when he saw her embarrassment; he didn’t have it in his heart to say a word.
Si Yin froze in place and covered her eyes as her lips trembled.
“Forgive me Shifu…. I should have… knocked…. I’m so sorry Shifu… I just wanted to tell you.. that I was on time.”
Si Yin started to ramble due to her nervousness before slowly uncovering her eyes. Si Yin looked right at Mo Yuan’s chest. Transfixed, she slowly walked up to him, reached out and lightly traced the scar across his chest with her fingers. Si Yin caught herself, pulled her hand away quickly and brought it to her lips.
“Shifu, did you get that scar from taking the lightening bolts for me?” Si Yin’s expression reflected her remorse and guilt.
Mo Yuan put his robe on and replied. “Seventeen, I’ve been in many battles and have many scars. This wasn’t from taking your heavenly trial for you.”
“But Shifu…” Si Yin reached her hand towards Mo Yuan’s chest again, but instead quickly pulled away and humbly bowed. “Shifu, forgive my rudeness. I just wanted to let you know I was back. Forgive me for intruding into your room without knocking first.”
Mo Yuan finished the last tie on his robe, turned towards Si Yin and warned her gently. “We’ll be leaving within the hour so don’t go wandering around, so I have to waste time looking for you, Seventeen. I’d prefer to keep this trip short and simple.”
When Si Yin left his room. Mo Yuan released a deep sigh, put his hand up against the wall to brace himself and allowed his heart time to stop pounding.
The reason behind Mo Yuan’s trip to Celestial Heaven was to watch the Royal Coronation Ceremony of Crown Prince Ye Hua, who would officially receive the royal seal. Now all realms clearly knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Ye Hua would be the next Heavenly Lord of the Nine Heavens. Ye Hua being as young as he was and the twin brother to High God Mo Yuan, God of War made this ceremony a true rarity. At fifty-thousand years old, Ye Hua had acquired numerous merits in combat as well as diplomacy and was well respected and known throughout all realms.
It was Crown Prince Ye Hua who lead his army and brought peace to the once turbulent seas after annihilating the ruthless Mermaid Clan.
Yet, regardless of the many merits he acquired for his bravery and skills in strategic planning, Ye Hua was also known for his strikingly good looks and for the effect he had on women. Ye Hua had eyes that resembled dark churning pools that one would gladly drown themselves in and dashing sharp facial features with full sensual lips. His jet black hair worn loosely appeared as shiny as the finest silk. Princesses and goddesses were known to fall in love with him at first sight and pined for him throughout their lives. They made their intentions clear and obvious but Ye Hua never showed the slightest interest. Ye Hua shrouded himself in a veil of indifference and ice just as he always cloaked his body in black, and his behavior became even mannerless when a woman would come near his vicinity. Today wasn’t any different, Ye Hua remained emotionless throughout the entire ceremony.
High God Mo Yuan, who normally never accepted invitations to such events made today an unique exception since it was for his one and only twin brother, Ye Hua. Ye Hua became a high immortal when he was only twenty-thousand years old. Five-thousand years faster than High God Mo Yuan, The God of War himself had ascended. This was something Heavenly Lord bragged about often, when speaking of his imperial grandson, Ye Hua.
High God Mo Yuan and Crown Prince Ye Hua were indeed identical twins, sons of Heavenly Father, even though their births occurred thousands of years apart. Immortals still became confused and often mistook one for the other. This was something both Mo Yuan and Ye Hua had grown accustomed to.
Even though Si Yin knew Mo Yuan and Ye Hua were twins, Si Yin couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw Ye Hua enter the main hall. She and Ye Hua had never crossed paths before and Si Yin always seemed to miss him when he came to Kunlun Mountain, which wasn’t often.
Shifu told Si Yin that Ye Hua was the golden lotus she used to look after in the lotus pond at Kunlun Mountain before his birth. Si Yin rubbed her eyes and took a good long look at her golden lotus.
Ye Hua did look just like her Shifu. He was almost a mirror reflection of Mo Yuan but there were subtle differences that she could feel and see. Si Yin felt his youth and saw how Ye Hua displayed his image of perfection on his sleeve for all to see. Yes, Si Yin saw his cold, emotionless expression as a protective emotional armor that someone younger might use and need. Si Yin smirked at Ye Hua’s fake facade of perfection.
Si Yin decided she preferred him better when he was a lotus flower.
Yet Ye Hua, her golden lotus was undeniably handsome. Maybe not as handsome as Shifu. Nobody in the Nine Heavens was as handsome as Shifu but Ye Hua was still quite striking nevertheless. When she saw Ye Hua look directly at her, Si Yin looked down at the ground so he wouldn’t get the wrong impression from her stare. She also kept her eyes on the ground for most of the coronation to avoid meeting eyes with either Prince Sang Ji and Ghost Lord Li Jing.
After the formal procession, Mo Yuan greeted and congratulated Ye Hua. He then greeted Heavenly Lord and Dong Hua Di Jin before politely excusing himself. As Mo Yuan walked in the direction of the main gates in the Nine Heavens, Si Yin, his seventeenth disciple, closely followed his every step. She playfully placed her step exactly where Mo Yuan lifted his. Mo Yuan stopped walking and felt his little Seventeen bump into his back firmly. Mo Yuan turned around and gave his look of disapproval as Seventeen apologized quietly. Si Yin looked up at Mo Yuan with her big chestnut eyes and sucked in her bottom lip and pouted. Mo Yuan struggled to hide his smile when Seventeen mumbled another apology.
“I’m sorry Shifu.” Si Yin purposefully and intentionally slowed her pace behind Mo Yuan, until they reached their destination and cloud jumped back to Kunlun Mountain.
After their departure some immortals openly remarked regarding the apparent fondness High God Mo Yuan displayed towards his seventeenth disciple and wondered if it was because of the disciple’s pretty face. Wasn’t the disciple he brought today the one he gave the Jade Purity Fan to? Many commented about Mo Yuan’s obvious favoritism towards his seventeenth disciple. They were not the only ones who noticed their closeness, Ghost Lord Li Jing also saw A-Yin standing closely beside her Shifu Mo Yuan during the entire coronation.
Li Jing never took his piecing eyes off her but she didn’t look his way not even once. Li Jing remembered the day he first discovered A-Yin was a woman. He was willing to give up everything to be with her. Li Jing realized seventy-thousand years had passed since he made the one mistake that was irreversible. A-Yin was so unforgiving. She wouldn’t listen to him then and still now after seventy-thousands years Li Jing could actually feel the briskness of A-Yin’s lack of concern and apathy from where he stood. Li Jing wondered to himself for a moment if he’d become invisible or transparent. How could she not look at him even once?
There was a moment during the coronation when Mo Yuan nonchalantly scanned over the crowd in attendance and whispered something in A-Yin’s ear. There wasn’t any reaction from her and A-Yin continued to look down, disinterested. The only time A-Yin did look up, was to look at Heavenly Lord’s second son Prince Sang Ji and Crown Prince Ye Hua, then she shyly hid behind Mo Yuan. It sparked jealously in Li Jing instantly. At the end of the ceremony, Li Jing saw A-Yin leaving and quickly moved towards her but a group of immortals blocked his path. By the time everyone had cleared away, Mo Yuan and A-Yin were already gone.
Li Jing wasn’t the only one who noticed Si Yin during Ye Hua’s coronation, Ye Hua himself felt the magnetic pull coming from the Kunlun disciple standing beside High God Mo Yuan. Ye Hua found himself staring at the disciple throughout the ceremony. The disciple looked familiar or reminiscent of someone he’d been friends with in early childhood and reunited with again after thousands of years of separation. Yet this wasn’t a possibility, because Ye Hua never experienced the joy of childhood friendships. Behaving like a child was a frivolous luxury that didn’t fit into his rigorous twelve hours of daily studying. Ye Hua saw Mo Yuan and his disciple turn to leave and Ye Hua felt a strong desire to follow them. Ye Hua felt something unexplainable when he saw the petite back of the Kunlun disciple walking away. It was then Ye Hua decided, he needed to visit Kunlun Mountain.
Mo Yuan and Ye Hua, being similar in personality were both silent, introverted, and stoic. Even though they were identical twins, one couldn’t say their relationship was close or intimate as other siblings. They didn’t see each other often unless there was a need, so when Ye Hua appeared at Kunlun Mountain unannounced Mo Yuan was quite surprised. Ye Hua made his formal bow and greeted High God Mo Yuan while stealthily looking around his surroundings.
The school was busy as usual with the tasks of daily life. Disciples walked around with purpose in their steps. When they saw Ye Hua, they greeted him formally and went about their business. Ye Hua didn’t see the disciple from the other day so he asked politely,
“High God Mo Yuan may I ask if the disciple that accompanied you to the Nine Heavens, was the wild fox that you bestowed the Jade Purity Fan to?”
Mo Yuan nodded and replied slightly intrigued. “Yes, that was my seventeenth disciple Si Yin. Why do you ask Ye Hua?”
Ye Hua paused before replying carefully, “I thought I’d seen him before or…” Ye Hua’s words trailed awkwardly.
“May I take a closer look at your seventeenth disciple High God Mo Yuan? Perhaps then I’ll be able to solve this riddle as to where and when we’ve met before.” Ye Hua shook his head slightly and felt foolish with his reply.
Mo Yuan realized in an instant the golden lotus had returned to meet his destined fate.
Mo Yuan told Ye Hua of the two places, that he could most likely find Si Yin. It would either be by the lotus pond or in the wine cellar. Those were the two places he frequented the most. Mo Yuan shook his head slightly to show his disapproval of his disciple’s poor choices. Mo Yuan offered to have one of the disciples guide Ye Hua to the locations but Ye Hua asked if he could wander alone and appreciate the school grounds at a leisurely pace. Mo Yuan didn’t refuse Ye Hua’s request nor did he correct Ye Hua, when he saw him heading in the wrong direction. It pleased Mo Yuan to see Ye Hua showing interest in Kunlun Mountain and perhaps in him as well.
Ye Hua walked silently around the vast and spacious school. As he walked past the tall stone pillars, he touched them and absorbed the rough and cool texture with his slim finger tips. Ye Hua looked up and marveled at its structure and its ability to be the foundation of Kunlun Mountain for so many thousands of years.
Ye Hua continued walking and saw the many reading tables. Some were empty but some with many scrolls still open and left behind by the previous reader. Ye Hua could smell the the slight brittle dryness coming from the scrolls. Ye Hua bent down and brushed his hand lightly over one of the old scrolls. Strangely, he smiled to himself and thought about what it would have been like to study with others instead of always alone.
When the disciples saw Ye Hua, they thought he was Mo Yuan at first and then realized their error in judgment and bowed to him respectfully. Ye Hua continued to silently walk to his unknown destination, when he saw a younger disciple attempting to use a freezing spell on one of the older disciples without success. The older disciples laughed at his failure and patted his back with brotherly love and showed him how it should be done. Their laughter echoed throughout the hall and resonated until another bout of laughter renewed and replaced the previous ones.
Ye Hua didn’t know where he was going but followed an unexplainable force similar to the earth’s gravitational pull on the moon. He merely followed the path to where his heart was leading him.
Yet in the end it wasn’t Ye Hua who found her but Si Yin who found him standing next to the lotus pond.
To be continued…