Bai Qian hesitantly somewhat fearfully turned around and there he stood. An immortal regally dressed in all black with a Dragon symbol on his sleeve. A Celestial. It was him or at least his face on an immortal body. Disbelievingly she took in the sight of him and her jaw tightened and tensely clenched spontaneously.
Recognition instantly dawned on his face and it brightened in thorough reverence, astonishment, and wonder, while Bai Qian’s was entirely closed up, indifferent, cold like a mask.
“It’s me. Ming Hua, your husband.” Ye Hua was fighting back the tears, his hushed voice flowed gentle and low.
He openly gawked at her round stomach and whispered in absolute wonderment, “Xiao Wu, you don’t have any idea how much I’ve missed you and look at your stomach! You look so beautiful that I can scarcely breathe.”
Holding out his hand for her to come to him, Ye Hua smiled full of joy while Bai Qian’s fixed expression remained disinterested and unchanged. Instead, she scrutinized his face dis-trustingly and her eyes narrowed at him.
Breathlessly he pointed to himself and excitedly exclaimed, “I’m Ye Hua. The immature jerk Crown Prince of Celestial Heaven! I was Ming Hua during my mortal trial! Xiao Wu…”
“So? What does that have to do with me?” Bai Qian briskly and coldly cuts him off.
“Xiao Wu…” Ye Hua whispered overwhelmed by his profound emotions.
In a low hiss, she corrected, “Don’t ever call me that. I’m High Goddess Bai Qian or Gugu to you, Crown Prince Ye Hua.”
“Xiao Wu, I don’t understand. It’s me, Ming.” Ye Hua blinked rapidly perplexed by her icy reception. He was so ecstatically thrilled that he nervously trembled where he stood.
She hatefully sneered, “You-are-not-allowed to call me that ever again! Address me properly or leave! What do you want?! What business do you have in Qingqiu, Crown Prince Ye Hua of the Celestial Clan?”
Ye Hua couldn’t understand her unwelcoming hostility and went to step closer, but Bai Qian immediately raised a shield of separation between them. Her dark eyes were cold like stone and her full lips pressed into a tight, tense line. She held her round, huge stomach with both hands.
Bewildered Ye Hua attempted to explain himself. “Ming the mortal died the day we were supposed to return to your home together. I didn’t know who you were until today. Never even in my wildest dreams would I have considered my Princess Xiao Wu was Bai Qian of Qingqiu!”
He ardently declared, “I’ve thought of nothing but you since we separated. My love hasn’t changed.”
“Love!?” Her eyes blazed with fury but Bai Qian openly laughed at him in mockery.
“Crown Prince Ye Hua, go home and leave Qingqiu!” Bai Qian bitterly sneered and promptly turned to go inside.
At a loss, Ye Hua called out, “Help me understand what’s happening here! Why aren’t you happy to see me? Xiao Wu, we can be together forever now with our baby! I’m immortal too! It’s me!”
Instantly she whipped around and Bai Qian’s face flushed crimson as she venomously spat, “There isn’t a WE! And this baby is MINE!”
“Xiao Wu…” Ye Hua began again but she screeched with rage.
Her quivering lips drew back in a snarl as she roared, “How dare you call me by that name!? Don’t ever call me that again! I don’t know you! Don’t come back ever!”
Seeing Ye Hua again was too much for her. Bai Qian’s massive body unsteadily wobbled from her emotional outburst, and she braced herself with one hand on the entrance wall of the fox den. She rapidly started to breathe in pants and sharp exhales. She grasped her tightening stomach firmly with one hand and lurched forward. She felt moisture, looked down and saw a wet puddle forming around her feet.
In a full panic, Ye Hua saw her stagger forward and cried out, “Bai Qian! Lower the shield! Let me help you!”
Bai Qian’s fourth brother Bai Zhen with Migu right on his heels, both came running out in concern. They heard her screaming from inside the fox den.
“The baby is coming. My water broke and I’ve started having contractions.” Covered in a cold noticeable sweat, Bai Qian pointed towards Ye Hua and spoke in a fractured sentence.
“Don’t…let him, Crown…Prince Ye Hua anywhere near me. Seal the den quickly.” She stammered out in between labored pants.
Bai Qian cried out in pain from another contraction when her older brother promptly picked her up and speedily carried her inside. The bottom part of her gown was soaking wet and appeared a darker shade of pink from her water breaking.
Ye Hua watched in sheer confusion and panic when the Fox Emperor suddenly step out, resentfully glanced at him before sealing the entrance of the fox den as Bai Qian requested.
Within the hour Zhe Yan appeared to help deliver the baby and saw Ye Hua on his knees with an expression of utter agony on his face. Zhe Yan’s brow rose as he looked at Ye Hua. He curiously started to come towards him, but then directly turned and ran into the den when he heard Bai Qian cried out from her contractions.
Ye Hua witnessed Zhe Yan effortlessly enter the den and boldly attempted to step into the entry when he hit a protective shield that painfully blasted him back several feet. The spell the Fox Emperor raised was explicitly so Ye Hua couldn’t enter. It was designed to keep only him out.
Screaming Bai Qian strenuously labored all day. Her contractions came closely and quickly but her cervix lacked dilatation to start pushing. She bled profusely and cried out from the severe pain. After a while, her cries sounded weak and tired. She was too worn and exhausted to cry out.
While she endured, Ye Hua suffered in his own way as he nervously paced in front of the den not knowing what to do. Finally, after sixteen hours of Bai Qian’s continuous shrieking, he tearfully listened to the baby’s first cry. His and Xiao Wu’s child was born.
He didn’t leave for days. Members of the Fox Clan came in and out but said nothing to him. They avoided eye contact and acted as if he wasn’t there. It was sheer madness and Ye Hua was at a complete loss and didn’t know who to appeal with to see Bai Qian.
He racked his brain and tried to understand, why she was so angry at him? Bai Qian’s hateful attitude towards him was without precise justification or reason. Ming’s mortal death was something out of Ye Hua’s control. Had he known Bai Qian was Xiao Wu, he would have come to her immediately after his return to immortality.
Several days passed and Ye Hua still didn’t know how she was or a word about the baby.
After waiting seven days straight, the Fox Emperor finally came out and stated, “I don’t know what’s happened between you and my daughter and I don’t care but I need you to leave, Crown Prince Ye Hua.”
“Don’t force me to use violence because I will without hesitation. My daughter is fragile and in recovery from delivering her son Bai A-li. Li as in separation. Qian Qian told me to tell you that’s what she named him. She said you’d understand.” The Fox Emperor spoke with brief, sharp words, turned his back and returned inside the Fox Den.
Ye Hua wept at the bittersweet news. Their son was born but he’d yet to see his face. He returned to Xiwu Palace and violently destroyed almost half of his palace. Furious at himself as he thought of all the times he’d refused to meet Bai Qian during the past two years.
A-Li was born with a full head of hair with dimples on both sides of his pink cheeks. He was happy, rarely cried and grew daily. He was a white Nine-tailed Fox just like his mother and loved to turn into his fox form and sleep snuggled up in his mother’s arms. He was a playful puff of jumping, yelping, chewing white fur that became a constant source of laughter and joy for the family.
She refused to nurse A-Li personally and used a poultice to dry up her milk rapidly. An announcement for a wet nurse was sent out in Qingqiu and it was an honor so many responded to the call. He grew chubby and plump due to the many wet nurses on hand. The baby was cherished, loved and adored by the entire Fox family. The people of Qingqiu rejoiced the birth of Prince A-Li and celebrated for days.
Bai Qian treasured her precious son but she also suffered from severe postpartum depression, and frequently went off by herself for days. She went to her favored tea house in the mortal realm, sat for hours and stared blankly at the plays but never heard a single word.
It was one of those dark days. Bai Qian was quietly sitting in the tea house and absentmindedly playing with sunflower seeds on the table, when suddenly a strange man sat across from her. The man appeared older perhaps in his fifties. He had a thick mustache and beard, wore expensive silk clothes and many gold rings with large rare precious gemstones.
He said, “I’ve been watching you for hours and has anyone ever told you that you are lovelier than a fairy?”
After giving him a silent visual once over, Bai Qian ignored him and continued to watch the play but he was determined.
“Someone as beautiful as you shouldn’t ever be alone.” He resolutely declared as he fearlessly put his large hand on top of her hand most boldly.
Bai Qian snorted amused and considered using her magic when a soft man’s voice said, “I’m sorry I’m late. Did I miss the entire play?”
“Please take your hand off my wife immediately.” Ye Hua spoke and casually sat beside her.
Bai Qian indifferently turned to Ye Hua, gave him a dirty look and then focused all her undivided attention on the mortal man. She demurely fluttered her long eyelashes and flashed her bright, brilliant smile.
Sweetly as honey she replied, “You’re right. I shouldn’t be alone. Why don’t we skip the small talk and get a room at the inn? I’ll let you do whatever you want to my body.”
The older man’s eyes flew open and appeared quite surprised as he quietly inquired, “Are you a courtesan?”
“No. Courtesans do it for money but you don’t have to give me a cent, and you may do ANYTHING you’d like to my body. Actually, the filthier, the better for me.” Provocatively Bai Qian seductively stoked the backside of the mortal’s hand. She lightly took his open palm to lead the way and began to rise from the table.
Ye Hua angrily pulled their hands apart and hissed, “Get out of here before I kill you!”
“Ignore him. I don’t know who he is so let’s go to the inn.” Bai Qian purred.
She suggestively took hold of the older man’s hand again, but the mortal was now profoundly confused and scared of Ye Hua. He briskly apologized, made a lame excuse and swiftly ran away.
Exasperated Bai Qian inhaled and exhaled sharply through her nose, swiftly attempted to leave when Ye Hua blocked her way.
Tearfully he urged, “Qian Qian, why are you doing this? Why won’t you talk to me?”
She glared furiously at him and tried to get out but Ye Hua resisted and refused to let her pass.
“Please, just talk to me and tell me what I’ve done wrong? If I knew why you were angry, I’d be able to do something about it. Qian Qian, what can I do to make things back to the way they used to be between us?” Ye Hua pleaded in his soft voice with tears running down his face.
With a blank face, Bai Qian returned, “GO TO HELL!”
It was like a light bulb going off in his head. With an expression of knowing, Ye Hua nodded his head and murmured, “It’s you who keeps burning down our home. Why?”
Others in the tea house were now actively viewing them. She and Ye Hua were catching the attention of the other customers. Openly rolling her eyes in pure annoyance, Bai Qian blatantly turned her head sideways so she didn’t have to look directly at his face.
Ye Hua gently reached for her chin when Bai Qian violently yelled, “Don’t touch me!”
Boldly in front of the mortals, she wantonly used her immortal magic and forcibly threw Ye Hua back several feet with a spell. The humans in the tea house loudly gasped in shock, as they gawked at him and Bai Qian instead of the play. They were much more exciting and her voice was loud. Furthermore, she’d just thrown a man double her size without the use of her hands.
With eyes aflame, Bai Qian forcibly fired a handful of priceless pearls straight at Ye Hua and sharply sneered, “Go to a brothel with these pearls and leave me alone! I’m not your whore anymore!”
Then in front of at least twenty mortals watching, Bai Qian without care or caution, cloud jumped from where she stood and vanished from everyone’s sight. Her sudden inexplicable disappearance caused a significant disturbance in the tea house. Many people sprung up from their seated positions and most loudly exclaimed “AYA!” In shock before turning their attention on Ye Hua. Many ran to him and demanded a reasonable explanation for her odd and mysterious disappearance.
Bai Qian had brazenly without discretion used her magic in front of many mortal witnesses. Breaking one of the most severely followed, and necessary rules of the eternal world which was keeping their immortality a secret. And not freely using magic in the mortal realm unless of a dire unavoidable legitimate, life-threatening emergency.
To be continued…..