There wasn’t much that surprised young but experienced and accomplished Ye Hua. In his limited lifespan of 50,000 immortal years, he had been in the position to meet immortals and mortals from all different walks of life. As both the Crown Prince of Nine Heavens and second in command on Kunlun Mountain, since Mo Yuan decreed Ye Hua as his successor, he’d seen more than most elders see in their entire lifetime. Every plausible scenarios and situations that could transpire, he’d observed therefore he was always ready, nothing caught him off guard. However, nothing could have prepared him for what was waiting for him in Qing Qiu.
The Fox Princess Bai Qian’s idea of a small, and homey cottage in the middle of the woods was in actuality a spacious bungalow perched on a massive private estate in Southern Qing Qiu. Surrounded by a myriad of blooming fruit yielding trees such as peach, apple, persimmon, cherry and even chestnut was the lush garden abundant grounds. Wild, free growing spikes, and stalks of purple lavender grew haphazardly around the entire residence. Their distinctly floral fragrance drew honey bees, and hummingbirds of all different coloring enticed by their sweetness.
The picturesque estate looked like something out of a midsummer night’s dream.
The large residence was pristine, clean and appeared newly built. The bungalow itself was enormous. Yet, it was still exceedingly charming and unpretentious. It was scenic down to the oversized rope swing tied to the massive oak tree in the front courtyard. In the opposite view of the swing on the other side of the property, there stood a small bamboo gazebo amidst creeping green vines, and little white flowers growing in the wooden latticework most charmingly. Further beyond the gazebo, there was an immense lagoon as big as the Jade Pool brimming to the rim with lapis colored, the cleanest and clearest water perfect for late night dips.
There was only one word to describe the residence– perfection. Ye Hua’s temporary home in Qing Qiu was incredible and perfect.
He took a moment to appreciate the grand exterior and the surrounding areas, before Ye Hua took his first footsteps toward what felt like a new adventure, and passed through the front door. The first salon to greet him was a comfortable, wide open receiving room that faced the east. The chamber soaked up all the bright morning sunlight through the two large panoramic windows draped with ivory gossamer curtains that swayed from the gentle breeze outside.
Directly in the most spacious area in the room by where the daylight came in best, there was an unexpected present waiting for him. His gift was a large canvas, painting easel, along with a leather binder branded with his name and the Celestial Dragon emblem. The portfolio overflowed with the finest parchment Ye Hua had ever seen. They were exquisite. The papers were exquisite if that term could be used to describe it. That’s what they were and they begged for his touch. He obliged them and gingerly with his fingertips, caressed the elegant vellum. He couldn’t help but smile because accompanying the paper and canvas, there were also the most pigmented paints, both water and oil orpiment, pencils charcoal and colored with an array of beautiful sable paint brushes, a short note from Bai Qian that read:
A little bird told me that you enjoy painting.
How unusual. Another surprise for him, and Ye Hua hadn’t previously noticed the messages posted around the house. Bai Qian had left little notes for him to follow. She was a strange and interesting little thing.
He moved to the oversized fireplace with a scroll carved mantelpiece in the remote corner of the room. Positioned corner wise from the fire was a luxurious chaise lounge. The deluxe sofa sat on a large white fur carpet that covered an extensive part of the smooth maple wooden floors. Ye Hua reached down and rubbed the thick, dense fur. It felt smooth. He didn’t know from what animal the hide came yet it’s fluffy, soft and inviting. He considered sitting on the fuzzy rug but something else caught his interest. Along the long wall, there were massive bookcases with an extensive collection of books. There appeared to be everything from the famous classics to traditional, trashy mortal stories and another note from Bai Qian that read:
A little bird told me that you enjoy reading.
The array of books immediately caught his eye since he enjoyed reading, but never had any free time. Ye Hua squatted nearer to the ground, closer to the bookcase to get a better look at the titles and snorted in disbelief. Roughly he rubbed his eyes because he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
There were numerous unattainable books of which he’d only heard of their existence, but never saw personally. The assemblage of rare and precious books was incredible. Owning such an extraordinary range of literary works was unusual enough, however, to have them in his guest cottage was perplexing. Ye Hua wondered if perhaps Bai Qian didn’t know their value, but by strange coincidence, they were the exact titles he had always wanted to read if he had time.
Suddenly, the whole situation piqued his curiosity. There were many aspects of the home which was uncanny to his inclination. In amazement, he stood and scratched his head confused, while wondered what else the cottage had in store for him as he explored further.
Ye Hua stepped past the front room, and found that the cottage split into two different areas. On the left, there was an area that served as a dining nook with a moderately sized wooden table with four chairs, and an overflowing bowl filled with an assortment of the ripest fruits. Directly beyond the dining space, there was a fully equipped kitchen jam packed to bursting capacity with every menu ingredients, and food items under the sun especially the ones he loved most. Along with many exotic food items that he didn’t recognize, another note from Bai Qian:
A little birdie told me that you enjoy cooking.
It could have been his imagination but it felt as if the house was designed solely for him. Bai Qian had put much effort into the learning of his preferences, and gone out of her way to accommodate his needs. Her attention to detail didn’t stop at the kitchen. His bathroom and bedroom also reflected her personal touches.
Ye Hua’s bathroom and bedroom were on the right division of the home. The luxurious bathroom like the other rooms was huge with an oversized bathtub spacious enough for four grown people to bathe at the same time. On the walled partition reachable from the tub, there were cupboards and shelves with a variety of candles, different colored and shaped soaps, bottles with many tinted liquids. Another note from Bai Qian:
I made the soaps and body oils myself with Zhe Yan. In case you are a shower kind of person, there’s an outdoor shower at the back of the house. Nothing is more relaxing than showering surrounded by nature.
The last area of the bungalow to receive Bai Qian’s special care, and attention was his bedroom. In the most rear portion of the cottage was the bedchamber, which was more significant than the one Ye Hua had in Nine Heavens. In the center of the room, a spacious cherry wood canopy bed occupied the space. Hanging on the ornate upper awning of the bed was the palest, and sheerest of baby blue hued gossamer drapery along with her last note:
I know you prefer black, however, I did some research and read that those surrounded in hues of blue sleep best. I’ll see you Tuesday for our first date and thank you for coming.
Of course, the entire bedchamber was painted and decorated in various shades of soft pale, cool calming blues.
To be continued…..