“Stay with me…” He tried to shout but it was the most horrifying vision. SuSu dressed in her beautiful red wedding attire. She sat on their bed on Mount Junji and told him she was no more. She declared she was no more before completely disappearing from his sight instantly.
Ye Hua felt the spin of chaotic disorder, then absolute void within Zhuxian Terrace consume him. He surrendered to it entirely as it seized and overtook him. And he was happy or more – he was relieved.
Yes, it was a comfort. He was thankful that he wouldn’t have to live without her. Without the only person that ever gave him the sweet ambrosia-like taste of bliss, rapture and indescribable happiness. She taught him how to laugh, to love and now, how could he possibly live without her? He couldn’t because if she was gone then he too didn’t want to carry on.
He desired death. For him, death felt like mercy, a kindness but he the sinner, knew he wasn’t that lucky. Ye Hua knew he was still alive, because he heard soft voices murmuring in his deep physical slumber.
His mind, his senses were acutely aware but he couldn’t move a single muscle, speak or open his eyes. Even now, Ye Hua sighed internally to himself when he felt the warming touch, the soothing sensation of a heated towel tenderly caressing his bare shoulders entirely.
“Nai Nai, why does Crown Prince Ye Hua have so many scars on his body?” He heard a series of deep sadden exhalations from the slightly familiar voice speaking.
“High Goddess, those scars are all from the lightning punishment Crown Prince endured daily for several years. It was because of the incident with Consort Sujin on Zhuxian Terrace.” He instantly recognized one of the voices. It was Nai Nai’s soft voice when she replied to the other person in the room.
The other responded now with a disdainful angry tone, “I assume that Heavenly Lord agreed with this form of brutality for his grandson, and probably came up with the disgusting idea.”
After another deep, heavy, long sigh then she uttered in a tone steeped in…what was it? Sorrow? Remorse? Perhaps it was more of astonishment. She uttered, “Foolish boy. You took holy thunder for the royal seal after years of lightning punishment. You must have a death wish. You’re more reckless than I imagined. You silly, rash, overconfident child.”
“Trying to fight and handle something, someone bigger, more powerful and stronger than you alone. How can you protect anyone else when you can’t even protect yourself?” Her somber words hung in the air and for unknown reasons, Ye Hua felt the sudden pang of sadness in his heart.
She said nothing more, then the distinct flowing sound of water wringing and the warm, the soothing feel of the towel on his chest washing him almost lovingly. Though his body lied still as a corpse, Ye Hua’s mind felt flooded and overwhelmed with questions? Who was this person beside him? She wasn’t an insignificant assistant, nurse or servant.
No, there was an undeniable strength, power, and confidence in her smooth and regal in her way of speaking. Nai Nai called her High Goddess, but there wasn’t a High Goddess in the world. And why did the subtly pleasing scent of peach blossoms exuding from her closeness smell so familiar?
There were so many questions he wanted to ask, but it was Nai Nai’s voice that broke his concentrated train of thought, “High Goddess, shall I call a wet-nurse for little Prince A-Li?”
Yes, A-Li. His and SuSu’s newborn son. How could Ye Hua have forgotten about his son? The other authoritative speaker replied without hesitation, and said something that confused him more, “No, please prepare the elixir sent by Zhe Yan. It must be done four times a day as he instructed. It’s important because I plan on nursing A-Li myself. The wet-nurse was only until my milk came in… Oh, Nai Nai, has the royal decree been accepted?”
“Yes, High Goddess, nobody is allowed near this chamber during your stay. All the guards were changed by the Emperor personally, and there won’t be any interruptions.” Another pause and then there was regret in Nai Nai’s faint tone, “High God Zhe Yan has started what you requested, and said he must remove the foul aura before they can be returned to you.”
What was going on? Who was this High Goddess? Could she be High God Zhe Yan’s apprentice? During the entire time, since Ye Hua only heard two voices he wondered if he was in Nine Heaven. And if not, where was he? But in the midst of his chaos, he felt solace because he heard his son. He recognized A-Li’s cry.
And it was difficult to explain, but Ye Hua knew the woman was smiling when she heard the baby lamb-like cries from the newborn baby. He assumed she was now holding him because of her soothing voice that cooed, “I know you’re hungry. Here, here. Shhh. Yes…is that what you wanted, my sweet love?” A soft chuckle followed by the most calming humming, purring noise that sounded like a content cat.
During his time of conscious but frozen state, Ye Hua heard the woman speak to A-Li regularly. She nursed, bathed and cared for him personally always. If she slept, she slept with the baby with her.
The days were long, but he kept track of time counting the sound of light footsteps of the woman pacing back and forth. Then suddenly one day Ye Hua could open his eyes, and the ceiling of his room a familiar view was what he saw first, before his hazy sight focused then gazed upon her face.
Ye Hua studied the unknown woman with warm dark eyes, who resembled SuSu staring back at him. But this woman was immortal, and her elevated high immortal energy was blinding to his sensitive sight. This unidentified woman was indeed a High Goddess and when she spoke, he recognized that she’d been the one with him throughout his slumber.
“Nai Nai, please call Prince Lian Song and send for the Medicine King…let them know the Crown Prince Ye Hua is awake.” She calmly called out then turned to him and spoke coolly. “Crown Prince Ye Hua, you’ve been in a month long coma.”
Ye Hua whispered, “I’d like to sit up.”
“I think it’s too soon.” She warned but when he tried on his own, she responded, “But if you insist, allow me to help you if you feel you’re ready.” Said as she gingerly placed one hand on the middle of his bare back, and wrapped her other arm around his waist to slowly lift him.
Ye Hua inhaled the mouthwatering scent of her, as she carefully brought him to a seated position and her touch didn’t feel like a stranger. She was without expression, blank faced. She gracefully stepped aside when the Medicine King came rushing in, but Ye Hua couldn’t take his eyes off her as she waited patiently across the room.
She said nothing when his uncle, Lian Song, anxiously came shooting in like the wind and in all honestly, Ye Hua couldn’t take his sight off her as he openly stared at her serene, but guarded expression. She stood at a distance, and only after the Medicine King verbally declared Ye Hua was fine.
She finally moved towards him confidently, sat perched on the very edge of the bed and scrutinized his face for a long awkward moment. He wondered if it was rude to ask who she was, while her somewhat familiar penetrating gaze bore into him.
Ye Hua was about to ask her identity but without warning, she suddenly slapped him across the face twice with full force leaving him speechless. She gave him one last glance, rose and strolled out of his room wordlessly. And the shock of being hit by a stranger instantly snapped him out of his mental fog. Stunned was he and it took moments before he could find his voice to speak.
“Who was that woman that looked like SuSu and why did she slap me?” Ye Hua’s voice was softer than usual from the severe dryness of his throat.
Deeply, Lian Song sighed, handed Ye Hua a cup of water, ignored his question and replied, “How do you feel? Everyone is on their way, now she and her guards have gone.”
“Who was that woman and why does she look so familiar?” Ye Hua pressed with more intensity.
Lian Song sharply exhaled so his cheeks puffed out and answered reluctantly, “Ye Hua, that was your fiancée. The newly elevated High Goddess Bai Qian, Queen of Qingqiu…who was…” Lian Song paused as if it were difficult for him to say, “Who happened to be SuSu, the mortal you blinded during her heavenly trial for ascension. Ye Hua, you were her love trial. You were her calamity.”
Ye Hua’s jaw slacked in utter shock. What nonsense was his third uncle spouting? How could SuSu, the nameless mortal be Bai Qian, the immortal Queen? No…this was pure insanity. Impossible. Surely he was hallucinating. Suffering the aftereffects of his coma or not understanding what his uncle said…but this wouldn’t be something he would make up.
However, if the unthinkable was the case and Bai Qian was SuSu then… She was alive! She was alive. Ye Hua tried to jump out of bed but his body, his limbs betrayed him. In his weak and injured state he fumbled, struggled to move before his uncle stopped him from trying to get out of bed.
“Ye Hua, you’re weak and still injured…she’s been with you all month. That’s how long you’ve been in a coma.” Lian Song spoke slowly to make Ye Hua understand. “High Goddess Bai Qian returned immediately after her return to immortality. She hadn’t even changed out of her bloodstained gown. We all thought she was SuSu’s ghost back for revenge. Your mother passed out on the spot, when Bai Qian ripped her eyes out of Sujin’s head without warning.”
“And what was most unnerving was the way she spoke… I mean, she should have been enraged even hysterical but she was more rational, calm and indifferent than you and intimidating as hell.”
Ye Hua stared searchingly into his uncle’s eyes unable to understand, or make sense of the unimaginable when Lian Song stated again, “She was SuSu, the mortal of her trial. When Bai Qian returned to her normal immortal state, she rushed back here for A-Li and her eyes.”
Ye Hua himself couldn’t believe the absurd words coming out of his mouth, “Bai Qian was SuSu? Wait, if this is true then it’s a miracle! That means we can be together. Plus, she and I are engaged to be married.”
“Third Uncle, if she stayed with me the entire month, that means she’s forgiven me.” It was pure desperation as Ye Hua tried to make logic of the matter, even though he only half understood because it was too ridiculous, too unbelievable.
But the glimmer of optimism sparked within Ye Hua even though it was difficult to be hopeful, when he saw the sympathy in Lian Song’s saddened gaze while he explained, “No, Ye Hua. She didn’t stay for you, but your mother begged High Goddess’ mercy on her knees, because she was a fellow mother who knew the pain of losing a son.”
Lian Song explained further in a somber voice, “Your mother pleaded with her to stay and help save you. High Goddess Bai Qian replied since your mother asked in such a despairing manner, she would remain until you awoke but under her terms. The first thing she did was change all the guards. Nobody and I mean nobody was allowed near her or A-Li except Nai Nai and myself.”
It took all his strength but Ye Hua leaped out of his bed, grabbed his clothes and babbled almost incoherently, “I need to talk to her. She’ll understand… I’ll make her understand. I know her…”
“Ye Hua, stop. It’s too late. She’s left…she and A-Li are gone forever.” Lian Song couldn’t meet Ye Hua’s crushed, hurtful gaze, “Look, you were in a coma and nobody could predict the outcome. High Goddess Bai Qian was alive, rightfully demanding her biological child and Father who is highly indebted to her… He immediately agreed to her demand taking A-Li for sole custody. Our clan now has zero influence or claim to him.”
Lian Song strives to make Ye Hua understand the solidly resolved situation, “He is her only son and heir apparent. A-Li was crowned the Crown Prince of Qingqiu. Bai Qian could have asked for much more compensation… It could have turned ugly towards war, but she wanted only A-Li and her eyes as the settlement for all her sufferings.”
“What about me? She didn’t say anything about me? About us?” Ye Hua’s faint voice cracked overcome by his extreme heartbreak. The love of his life who he believed was dead…now alive, had slapped his face, taken their son and gone without a single word.
“Ye Hua, you will have other women and children. Let them go…it’s for the best. It’s for peace between our clans.” Lian Song advised but Ye Hua couldn’t even consider letting them walk out of his life, and never seeing them again.
To be continued…..