It was much colder than he believed. The chilly autumn air hit him the very moment Ye Hua jumped and sprang out from the cool waters. Involuntarily he shivered, trembled and felt his entire skin’s surface react by breaking out in little, tiny raised goosebumps everywhere.
However, his personal and foremost concern was about his precious lotus, remaining in the Qinqqiu’s lotus pond without his continuous supervision.
Ye Hua wondered if he should tell her there was more to the lotus than what she could see? Should he be forthcoming and admit that there was a living being inside the bloom, but that wasn’t precisely the truth either. It wasn’t a living being yet but his most earnest heartfelt hope and prayer of saving someone precious to him.
Saving his unborn child was an act of pure desperation because he couldn’t let go. The sadness was that he wasn’t even aware of his or her presence until it was already too late. The throbs, pulses and pains of regret, sorrow washed over him like a wave that made him want to weep a sea of tears.
It was his most earnest, selfish desire even if that meant using Qian Qian to achieve his goal. It was a chance Ye Hua was willing to take. But in exchange, he would marry her off to Mo Yuan as she fancied.
In his mind, it was right and just. If anything, were there even rules when it came to love, life and war? If so, Ye Hua considered it more than appropriate. Quid pro quo, wasn’t that Qian Qian’s motto? She would earn her heart’s desire, Mo Yuan, and Ye Hua would gain and achieve his long awaited dream.
The birth of his newborn. Wasn’t that fair? But a tiny little voice in the back of his brain kept reminding him repeatedly; it was not only his child but it was also hers.
It was Qian Qian’s and his baby they’d made together in love. The circumstances were less than perfect and desirable but his love for her was always sincere. That problematic juncture and crossroad he would solve when and if it ever came to that point.
Because wholly convinced was Ye Hua as Mo Yuan that Chang’s unexpected color change meant that she, or he was ready to be born. He dreaded, worried and fretted it suggested something more ominous, unfavorable such as his beloved lotus was dying, un-savable.
For his great cause, he was in Qinqqiu standing nearly naked in the middle of the cold fall day. He trembled again from the chill in the air and the vibrating sensation coursed throughout his body.
Ye Hua was reaching for his clothing when the sudden gasping sound from Qian Qian caused him to pause, raise his gaze curiously, and there she was openly gawking at him as if she’d never seen an undressed man before.
Faintly Ye Hua chuckled because since she didn’t have any of her memories, so for Qian Qian, she was watching an exposed man for the first time, and the flustered expression on her face was hilarious.
Wildly she blushed uncontrollably but couldn’t pull her eyes off of his body either. Her sight wasn’t precisely on his body but a much more concentrated stare directly at his male parts. Her blatant ogling and attention made Ye Hua somehow begin to grow erect after standing in cold waters.
Qian Qian drooled, gawked and the obvious sound of her smacking her lips was loud and audible. Awkwardly their eyes joined, locked and Ye Hua wasn’t certain if she was going to jump on him. He thought this because the hungry look in her focused gaze made him feel like he was her next meal, and he precisely knew how a gazelle would feel being staked by a hungry lioness.
Nevertheless, he smiled or smirked because he couldn’t stop himself. This moment was a first for them ever since and in all the years previously, it was he who was ready to attack Qian Qian sexually but this time it was the other way. She looked as if she might pounce on him at any given time.
Ye Hua considered if he should try to seduce her but she suddenly jumped up and ran away. Amused by her tense and swift departure. He swiftly dressed and followed behind her feeling moderately entertained. Then he began to perform his role in the production of a charade that was Qian Qian’s new life.
He pretended as if he’d never met the Fox Clan. Ye Hua behaved like a newcomer and everyone around him did the very same. It was unbelievable. The absolute intensity of efforts and details everyone put forth in their act was incredible and after a while, he forgot he was pretending too.
The Fox Clan had mastered their roles to perfection but why was it Qian Qian seemed misplaced, and so out of sorts? For the first time, Ye Hua doubted, questioned and even second guessed their decision, and queried if erasing her memories was the best for her or everyone else?
I’m The Winner and Victor…..
It started as a punishment for her, but now it was his hell because seeing SuJin alive after he killed her himself was maddening for Ye Hua. Every night he left her for dead and miraculously she was still alive the following day. She wasn’t merely conscious but appeared incredibly healthy.
Ye Hua’s voice sounded tired and lacked his usual anger when he asked, “SuJin, who’s coming in after me?”
She sat squatted in the far corner of the room with her elbows on her knees. Her body was rounded and closed up. Her dirty clothes were nothing but rags but the coloring and glow of her skin were brighter than Ye Hua’s.
“I don’t know. I’ve never heard them speak.” SuJin replied in a low whisper.
It was madness and absurd, Ye Hua challenged, “20,000 years and not a single word? Tell me what happens after I’ve gone? Does the individual seem like a man or woman? Have you smelled or sensed anything?”
SuJin moved closer and spoke in a loud, clear voice, “Ye Hua, I don’t know. They treat my wounds and feed me delicacies that are rarer than what I ate like a princess in Nine Heavens. They bring me fine wines and it’s the most exquisite I’ve ever known. I’ve never heard, sensed or smelled anything unusual from the person.”
He didn’t even have the desire to waste his time with her but asked curiously, “SuJin, I have questions? Do you hate me? Or resent me?”
She hesitated thoughtfully then stated something so frightening that shook him to the bones. SuJin said, “Ye Hua, I still love you and find myself looking forward to your punishment. If anything, every night I’ve had all of your full undivided attention for the last 40,000 years, and that’s much more than I had before.”
“If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have changed a thing and I would kill Bai Qian ten thousand times over. I love knowing you and she can never be together so in the end, I succeeded.”
Like a crazed witch, SuJin crackled and announced proudly in her madness, “I beat the almighty Bai Qian of Qingqiu and I won! I get you every night but how often does she get you? Never! As long as you and she are apart, I’m the winner and victor!”
Loudly SuJin’s crazy and insane laughter echoed throughout the chamber around them. Ye Hua felt her madness seeping into him.
Pride and Prejudice…..
“Don’t leave me! NO! NO! NO! NO! Qian Qian! NOOOOOOOO!”
Abruptly Bai Qian bolted up from the bed. It was that dream or nightmare again. The very same one that left her feeling sorrow without reasoning.
The weight in her heart was somewhat of a panicked depression, and days like these she usually wandered into the mortal world to forget her sorrows. She didn’t necessarily have a precise reason to feel blue, but it was just a somber sensation she couldn’t shake off for days. She stayed drunk until the pain eventually dulled and faded away.
Sometimes in her drunken state she pondered, what could have possibly happened during her heavenly trial to make her forget 90,000 years of memories. After the initial inquisitive wondering, Bai Qian so utterly felt empty and hollow inside.
The best way to describe the emotions were feeling like a shell of something unknown. She lacked basic self-identity. How could there be so much in her life that was a black, dark, blank mystery? Where did all those many memories go? Undoubtedly she didn’t remain in seclusion and must have breathed, laughed, grieved with someone? Anyone?
How could one’s life be without pain? Hurt, resentment or anger? But her world was so perfectly calm and tranquil. That was the issue. Her life was too peaceful and subdued, and she grasped herself well enough to know she didn’t live like an angel.
Bai Qian knew she was selfish, self-centered and petty so there had to be an individual out there she’d wronged? Someone she’d rejected or hurt. There had to be someone out there that suffered from her pride and prejudice.
Who had she hurt or injured? Whom had she resented, wronged and why weren’t they coming to seek retribution? Bai Qian would never verbalize it to anyone but she existed in dread of Bàofù. Her karmic revenge because of the fact she was fully aware that she was a grudge holding bitch.
There should be someone out there in the world just waiting, expecting, watching, praying for her to crumble and fall on her face. But who were her enemies and who was her adversary? It would be impossible to experience a regular, healthy life without creating an antagonist here and there through the long time span of 90,000 years.
There must be much more beneath the surface but every time she brought up the subject of her lost past. Everyone around her closed up, shut down and suddenly treated her as if she were a frail infant.
Today was one of those days when even alcohol didn’t dull or numb her anxieties and trepidation. Bai Qian also knew her entire family was anxiously on pins and needles. Whenever she had that certain dream or nightmare, everyone was overly gentle, patient, too calm and stepped cautiously on eggshells around her.
Their good intentions were for her sake and she knew it. But Bai Qian’s frustrations were sometimes so unbearable and she couldn’t voice them aloud. As usual, she said nothing and gradually found herself by the lotus pond. In the midst of all the other lotus flowers, the red one Ye Hua left behind appeared to be following or trailing behind her.
Bai Qian squatted beside the pond and yanked up a handful of long grass blades. She touched the crimson lotus with the tip of the leaf and it seemed to glimmer, glow a little brighter. Now that she took a good look at the blossom, it wasn’t just a mere flower. No, there was movement or something like a pulse. Was it possible for a flower to move as if it had a heartbeat?
“Why does Ye Hua treat you so special?” Bai Qian asked the bloom aloud.
The flower of course, said nothing in return but she spoke to it again and said, “You are a beautiful flower. Are you Ye Hua’s long lost princess who was trapped in the form of a blossom by an evil witch?”
Wistfully she sighed to herself and Bai Qian continued to carry on with the lotus, “I envy you. At least you know who you are and why you’re here. Luckily you’ve experienced a man’s touch. Speaking of a man’s touch, I don’t know how I’m going to look Ye Hua directly in the eyes after last night.”
“Anyway, I saw how you lit up when Ye Hua carried you in the pond. Does his skin smell as warm as it appears? You can tell me. It will be a secret between us girls.” Bai Qian teased the crimson lotus as she caressed it gently with the long blade of grass.
Her dark long eyelashes fluttered when her big coffee colored eyes moved heavenward, as Bai Qian pondered aloud, “You are a female, right?”
“May I call you Red? I’m Bai Qian and you’re in my realm of Qingqiu but you can call me Qian Qian. I don’t know why but I really like it when Ye Hua calls me that.” She replied, introduced herself to the flower and even gracefully rounded her arms to playfully bow to the blossom.
Giddily Bai Qian snickered at her silliness and in earnest wished she wasn’t allergic to the flower, because the depression, dread and anxiety she was feeling were gone almost magically.
Conversing amidst ‘Red, the Lotus Flower’ did what two full bottles of wine failed to do. It delivered her sweet serenity and inner peace. She relished and savored the glowing and warm sensation of feeling centered and peaceful. Until the many bright and sparkling stars came out for the night, Bai Qian relaxed beside the lotus and spoke to it for countless of hours.
To be continued…..