The Story of Cheng Yu
From a safe distance, Cheng Yu observed SuSu slowly walk along the fragrant lotus ponds. SuSu’s small hand carefully touched and caressed the white lotus shaped tips of the guard rails along the way. Alongside the blind mortal stood her loyal servant Nai Nai, who followed watchfully behind her mistress. Now heavy in the last week of pregnancy, SuSu moved gradually until a maid came and warned them to return to the Hall of Beautiful Youth. Grounded, SuSu was unable to leave her prison-like residence during most of her three miserable years in Celestial Heaven.
When Cheng Yu first heard Ye Hua impregnated a mortal, she could scarcely believe it. She’d known Ye Hua from childhood and thought him to be indifferent to women. He’d refused Su Jin’s apparent affections for years. Hand reared by Heavenly Lord and raised in isolation; Ye Hua was more glacier than man. Ye Hua was an unexplainable enigma with an impenetrable ice wall that encompassed him.
Watching SuSu’s backside as she walked away brought back an old ache in Cheng Yu’s heart. Suddenly, the painful reminder of her beautiful younger sister A-Chen flooded her mind. So many lifetimes ago.
Thousands of years had passed since Cheng Yu became immortal, but her mortal memories remained as vivid as if they occurred yesterday. Cheng Yu’s desire to avenge the ones who killed and destroyed her family vanished when she ascended into immortality, but her compassion for mortals remained. SuSu reminded Cheng Yu of her baby sister, A-Chen and she was sympathetic to SuSu’s tragic situation.
Mortal Cheng Yu’s father, Duke No Su was a distinguished General in the Great Emperor’s army. The Duke once a favored subject to the Emperor, became a victim in a war, between greedy feudal families. All ruthlessly contending for the Emperor’s favors. Stripped of his rank, title and eventually his life. The Duke and his four sons became traitors overnight and beheaded after falsely being accused of treason.
The Emperor’s lenient punishment for Cheng Yu’s mother, the former Duchess Che, Cheng Yu and her younger sister, A-Chen was worse than death. They were to become slaves for one of the families responsible for their family’s demise. Duke Xie was well known for violating and killing his female slaves.
Devastated, Duchess Che bit off her tongue and died instead of serving the family responsible for her husband and sons’ deaths.
During the first year of slavery, Cheng Yu and her sister’s task were to wash all the dirty clothes for the family and other servants in the dead of winter, from sunrise until late evenings. The girls raised in nobility now had open cuts on their once youthful soft hands from constant exposure to the freezing cold water. One night Cheng Yu’s younger sister was dragged out of her bed and cruelly defiled by Duke Xie. While molesting the girl, the man suffered an eye injury from A-Chen’s resistance to his vicious attack and blinded the girl as punishment.
At the tender age of seventeen, A-Chen became blind and pregnant from the violation and tried to kill herself by drinking rat poison. A-Chen’s death was slow and excruciatingly painful. She coughed up blood for days and begged her older sister to kill her. Unable to watch A-Chen suffer and endure any longer, heartbrokenly Cheng Yu helped her sister and put her out of her misery. Ironically, both she and the child inside her stomach died on the anniversary of their father’s death.
Grief-stricken, Cheng Yu wasn’t even able to provide a proper burial for her sister, whose body was thrown in the mountains to be eaten by wild animals.
Immediately after the death of her younger sister, Cheng Yu ran away and found refuge in a Buddhist monastery until her mortal death. Cheng Yu was a devout Buddhist in mortality and immortality.
Watching SuSu wander away suddenly brought tears to Cheng Yu’s eyes which she quickly wiped away. So many years had passed, but the disturbing memories of caring for her blind, pregnant sister still broke Cheng Yu’s heart. She knew just by SuSu’s broken expression that she’d lost her will to live. SuSu’s facial appearance was the same as her sister’s after discovering she was pregnant by the man who killed their father and older brothers.
Initially, Cheng Yu sought SuSu out of curiosity. She was inquisitive about the mortal woman who’d caught Ye Hua’s heart and become impregnated by him. Cheng Yu was surprised, no, shocked to hear Ye Hua’s first love was a mortal until she discovered the pregnancy was his payment to SuSu for saving his life. Yes, that made more sense than ice-like Ye Hua actually loving a mere mortal.
The first time she saw SuSu, Cheng Yu almost fainted from shock. SuSu and A-Chen looked alike that they could have been sisters.
Cheng Yu avoided SuSu until the little princess Bai Feng Jiu from Qingqiu told her about SuSu becoming blind. Bai Feng Jiu said Su Jin bragged and tormented the mortal. Su Jin staged a farce at Zhuxian Terrace to frame SuSu, and Ye Hua personally took the mortal’s eyes to replace Su Jin’s damaged ones during the incident.
Cheng Yu knew Heavenly Lord well enough to know next time it wouldn’t be just a body part but eventually, he would kill the mortal to avoid offending Bai Qian of Qingqiu, Ye Hua’s future Crown Princess Consort. Just as Heavenly Lord once threatened Cheng Yu into breaking off her love affair with Prince Lian Song.
It was also a well know fact, Ye Hua didn’t care for SuSu and barely saw her during her entire pregnancy. He didn’t allow anyone to enter the Hall of Beautiful Youth and kept SuSu in isolation. At first, Cheng Yu thought Ye Hua was protecting SuSu, but then it dawned on her that he was hiding her from everyone. Perhaps embarrassed he’d impregnated a mortal?
Everyone in Nine Heavens treated SuSu poorly from the start. Even the maids of the lowest status disrespected SuSu due to their prejudice to her mortality. SuSu’s dire situation tugged at Cheng Yu’s heart, and it was then she secretly viewed SuSu from afar.
Perhaps it was coincidence or fate, but Cheng Yu happened to be present and watched SuSu’s lonely stumbled walk to Zhuxian Terrace. The mortal’s lips moved as she counted the tops to the guard rails. Amazingly, sightless SuSu grasped a memorized path as Cheng Yu observed from a distance.
She followed SuSu and heard her call for Ye Hua. Cheng Yu was shocked when she heard SuSu ask Ye Hua to release her and walk towards the center of the punishment platform. In a moment of despair, Cheng Yu thought of her sister, A-Chen and impetuously stopped her from moving forward. Tearing the sleeve off SuSu’s dress in the process.
Cheng Yu tossed the long white material off Zhuxian Terrace when SuSu screamed from fear and vanished with SuSu before anyone knew what happened.
It was only after Cheng Yu was in the mortal realm with SuSu, she realized what a thoughtless and reckless deed she’d done. Cheng Yu saved SuSu from killing herself, but the fact remained, she stole the Crown Prince of Celestial Heaven Ye Hua’s intended Side Consort. A crime severe enough that she could have her immortality stripped away and sent back into the mortal realm. Cheng Yu didn’t know who was shaking more, SuSu or herself.
Cheng Yu tenderly held SuSu until she stopped screaming. The mortal said nothing but shivered like a wounded bird on the ground where she sat. Terrified.
Finally, SuSu asked in a faint, weak, whisper of a voice. “Who are you? Are you going to kill me?”
Cheng Yu hadn’t even spoken to SuSu but heard her tell Ye Hua she was jumping from Zhuxian Terrace to return home. Another lie from Su Jin to rid SuSu from Ye Hua’s life. Cheng Yu gathered her wits and calmed her stammering shaking voice.
She replied softly, “SuSu, your body would be nothing but dust if you’d jumped off the punishment platform. How could you believe the words of the woman who stole your eyes? I’ve brought you back where you belong. Nobody else will hurt you again. You’ll be safe.”
Cheng Yu silently wept when she heard SuSu whimpered her newborn son’s name repeatedly, and her voice quivered as if she were crying. Such a hearbreakingly familiar sound. How many nights had Cheng Yu listened to her blind sister whimper in her sleep?
Cheng Yu summoned water from the River of Oblivion. She told herself it was a kindness and mercy to help SuSu forget about her time in Celestial Heaven. To forget the child, she was forced to leave behind.
She held the cup to SuSu’s lips, watched the mortal drink from the container and cast a sleeping spell. Cheng Yu stroked SuSu’s face until the mortal fell asleep. She knew SuSu wasn’t A-Chen, but she still kissed SuSu’s cheek. Before leaving SuSu at the same monastery where Cheng Yu lived her mortal life with a document to show SuSu to be a freed slave named Chen. A slave without a surname which was common.
In mortality, Cheng Yu was powerless and unable to protect her sister but found solace in saving SuSu from the misfortune that would have inevitably come her way.
Cheng Yu returned to Celestial Heaven and was stunned to hear Ye Hua was in a coma after following SuSu into Zhuxian Terrace. Never had she considered Ye Hua truly loved SuSu.
To protect SuSu from ever being found, but also to omit the guilt she now felt towards Ye Hua. To protect herself and hide her deed, Cheng Yu drank water from the River of Oblivion to forget what she’d done.
Cheng Yu forget everything.
To be continued…..