400 years later~
With delayed footsteps, Ye Hua slowly circled the male figure standing in his study, and what he saw was a matter that caused his latent anxieties to surface in plain view. His apprehensions were written all over his usually composed expression, as his well-honed eagle eyes took in the strangeness before him in deep contemplation…his young son, A-Li, was now a strapping teenager.
Ye Hua questioned after one of A-Li’s mandatory monthly examinations, “Son, what did the Medicine King say? Have you grown this month? What about your weight?”
He asked the teenager, who much to his resentment was starting to fill out more than himself, since Ye Hua had always been naturally slender in build. A-Li wasn’t just built stronger than his young father, he was also better looking.
His son’s strikingly attractive facial features such as his big, bright, and animated eyes that he had inherited from his mother were distinctly more Fox than Dragon. His long satin on silk, smooth, glossy jet black hair was amazingly lustrous that it appeared slick, and wet when it was dry.
He did strongly take after his mother. However, his son did inherit his bone composition. A-Li had Ye Hua’s sharply, chiseled facial bone structuring but again everything on the boy was more handsome, due to his Fox influences and genetics. He wasn’t being biased as his father. His son was remarkably beautiful, and the young man didn’t solely have an attractive genetic makeup.
He also possessed a finesse, a distinct way of style, an agreeable suave about him and that wasn’t all. He also possessed both fashion and convivial practices unknown to his father. He knew how to behave, how to carry himself and in particular, how to dress whence to extenuate his maturing face, and muscular physique perfectly.
Unlike Ye Hua who was forever standoffish, uptight in temperament and only wore rigid black clothing; A-Li’s apparel matched his happy-go-lucky personality in smart, yet stylishly relaxed attire. He didn’t follow Celestial traditions wearing softened and neutral tones. He preferred dressing in an array of colors such as rich jewel tones, green, gorgeous azure looking extraordinary dapper in pale colors such as pinks, sky, teal blues and every tint of purples.
A-Li was his mother’s son.
“A-Li, what did the Medicine King say?” Ye Hua questioned again now with a tinge of annoyance in his soft voice.
His son puttered around, dallying and not answering his concerned father. Instead, A-Li immediately noticed the wooden identity card of the concubine out of the hundred women Ye Hua had to choose from. His judgemental gaze narrowed in on the name of the woman to serve him for the evening upon his desk, before noticeably frowning, then beamed too broadly to hide his thinly veiled disappointment.
A-Li was still too young to understand a man’s physical need, and openly disapproved of Ye Hua’s practice of taking young new concubines. He could see his son wordlessly deeming him as inappropriate, then it was the broad grin that showed his dimples and perfectly white teeth. It was the very smile that made goddesses everywhere swoon, and all the female servants crazy, insane falling over themselves when A-Li appeared.
“Father, the Medicine King said that I’m the same height and weight as last month, and the month before that and the month before that. I haven’t grown anymore.” A-Li said, after dramatically puffing out his newly developing barrel chest with confident composure, and a cheery smile.
Ye Hua sat behind his desk, gave A-Li another visual once over, then dropped his gaze on the documents before him, and inquired in a moderately scolding tone, “When was the last time you went to greet your stepmother, Consort Dongmei, or your little brother, Yingpei? A-Li, you need to pay attention to him and treat him kindly as an older brother should.”
Silence… There wasn’t a sound coming from A-Li.
Ye Hua raised his eyes to see his eldest son was no longer in the chamber. He sighed defeated knowing it was still difficult for A-Li, who had never accepted Ye Hua’s second wife, and still referred to her as his distant cousin, Dongmei, instead of calling her Consort and never had he bonded with Yingpei.
A-Li wasn’t rude or callous to the boy. He was usually polite without ever showing any brotherly affection for the youngster. He was however cynical, cold hearted and displayed blatant disregard toward Consort Dongmei. His resentment towards her was of the utmost.
His bitter, hatred hostility were also targeted toward all the other consorts, and concubines. Because his son never gave up on his childhood dream of Ye Hua and his birth mother, the Shimu of Kunlun Mountain’s reconciliation. Therefore, A-Li strongly and openly shunned all the women in Ye Hua’s harem.
Ye Hua considered, perhaps it was best for his eldest son to stay away from Consort Dongmei and Yingpei, rather than create drama. The last thing he needed or wanted was further irritants, or headaches from the inner palace of his large harem. Considering A-Li as usual was Ye Hua’s foremost concern, and his accelerated growth spurts were distressing.
A-Li was Ye Hua’s pride and joy. His son never caused him an ounce of distress, and was close to being the perfect child. He was intelligent, compassionate, well-loved for his pleasantries and witty personality. A-Li had also mastered nearly all forms of martial arts at a young age, possessed the kind of mental and physical restraint unheard of in someone being so young.
If there was one source of problem; A-Li’s single downfall was his explosive temper. He possessed a dangerous temper which he skillfully concealed, and only once had he lost control of himself, when Consort Dongmei’s male attendants called Mo Yuan’s newborn twins ‘half-demon bastards.’
Without warning, A-Li who was only a 303 years old child openly assaulted, and nearly killed the attendants, crippling one so severely in his vicious attack that Ye Hua had to award compensation to the injured man’s family. However, that was a single incident, and A-Li hadn’t given Ye Hua any other difficulties or worries until his 305th birthday.
Then suddenly without warning or cause, A-Li physically shot up with the mental development of a mortal child of thirteen years old. Ye Hua’s son wasn’t even 700 years old yet but however, he appeared and held the intellectual capacities of a seventeen-year-old teenager. No, the boy was far beyond a teenager’s rationalizing aptitude. A-Li was a prodigy who now stood only one inch shorter than his father.
The minor difference in height now made them look like siblings, rather than father and son.
When A-Li’s strange accelerated transition toward adolescence began, Ye Hua consulted every Medicine King, physician, holistic healer from near and far and they all said the same thing. They all stated A-Li’s extraordinary aging progress wasn’t dangerous, or harmful and a direct result of being birthed from a mortal woman’s body. The experts stressed the boy was as fit as a fiddle. If anything, he exceeded the standards of good health on every level, and there wasn’t any need of concern.
However, Ye Hua silently feared that A-Li would age into grayness before himself. But his fears now were groundless. His son matured for thirteen years straight, then suddenly his excelled maturity stopped as abruptly as it started, and he hadn’t grown or changed for nearly four hundred years.
The interesting crux of the matter being Mo Yuan’s twin daughters also shared, and mirrored A-Li’s growth precisely. They too until the age of 305 years old developed as immortal children do, before suddenly experiencing twelve years of excelled growth, and now appeared like fourteen-years-old mortal teenagers.
He heard the twins were beyond beautiful with families fighting to wed their sons with them, and like A-Li, they too were genius children. Ye Hua had never seen Mo Yuan’s twins personally. But when he was searching for a cure for A-Li, he met with High God Zhe Yan, who explained that the girls had also grown identically to A-Li; hence causing much stress and worry for their parents.
Zhe Yan shared the same medical view as the other physicians. He declared that the unexplained rapid maturity was due to their mother’s absence of magic at the time of their births making her mortal-like. So in a way, the twins were also birthed from a mortal-like woman.
The hastened development was indeed frightening. Although, perhaps the most unnerving concern was all the children’s dark, near black eyes turned a brilliant shade of emerald green, after the end of their unexpected growth spurt.
Ye Hua couldn’t help but reflect on the profoundly significant correlation, between Mo Yuan’s twins and A-Li. How could all three children be so alike – too alike – as if they were full siblings of the same blood, instead of only half with the same mother?
A-Li lightly tapped his large foot on the lowest wooden step leading to where he was most likely conceived, inside the little thatched hut. Noting how much his foot had grown since he had started coming to his beloved place. The modest cottage was his mother’s mortal home, which his father had abandoned long ago. However, for him this was forever his place of happiness.
He loved being on Mount Junji especially on a pitch black, moonless night, and when the stars looked brighter like many shimmering diamonds in the sky overhead. He didn’t bother to brighten the distance around him, instead appreciating the quiet darkness, as he subconsciously stroked his mother’s fluffy white Fox tail hanging at his waist.
Her tail… It gave A-Li a sense of security, knowing regardless of their separation his mother was forever near, and being on Mount Junji. It provided him with a further feeling of closeness to her, as he deeply breathed the refreshing, clean, pine scented, mountain air and enjoyed the tranquillity of twilight.
He closed his eyes and happily took in the calmness, but his solitude was short lived because he had company. The sounds were faint yet for him, he detected the noise effortlessly.
The vibrations from the steady breathing behind him piqued his hearing. The sounds caused A-Li to quickly spin around to see the vague outline of two bodies clothed in white hooded capes.
The three of them stood in total silence for a moment, before A-Li with a single graceful hand gesture, magically beckoned the light. And now, the properly lit cottage behind him cast out enough brightness for him to make out the unintelligible outlines.
The petite figures lowered their white hoods at the same time, in the same way with the same gestures before the twins spoke in unison. “Dà gēgē!” They called out in the same pitch, before Changchang and Changying ran toward their older brother, A-Li, with open arms.
In secrecy and under the cover of darkness, Bai Qian and Ye Hua’s children met on Mount Junji. They convened in the mortal realm, at the location of their parent’s newlywed home every year.
On the first moonless night, in the month of their mother’s birthday, on the eighteenth hour, the sibling met and shared a bottle of wine. They reunited to toast their mother’s special day and planned for their future, as they had done so for the past hundred years, ever since the twins became young adults.
During the past hundred years, the children had gathered data, evidence, witnesses, anything they could get their hands on related to their parent’s forced separation. With his twin sisters, A-Li’s ambition was to serve vendetta to those responsible for forcefully separating their parents, hence ultimately destroying their family.
The purpose of the children’s meetings was revenge. Their goal was… Bàofù.
To be continued…..