Dongmei’s cheeks flushed and reddened as she screeched, “Yingpei! Are you stupid?! Are you daft!? Did I give birth to a simpleton?! That’s the tenth time you’ve read the wrong character!” The boy yelped, when the small leather switch in her hand swung with accuracy against the soft plump backside of his hand.
Dongmei dropped on her knees, closed in on the crying boy’s face, forcibly tapped his now reddened hand with the knobby end of the switch, and scolded in a harsh tone, “Yingpei, you are Mother’s only hope. You must be one hundred times better than A-Li! You must gain your father’s favors by being smarter, witter and beat your older brother at everything!”
Dongmei threw her hands in the air and shouted in disappointment, “If only you had been born a Dragon instead of a useless Fox!”
“But Dà Gēgē is much older than me.” The child sobbed as his nursemaid rushed to the boy, wiped his tears and attempted to soothe Consort Dongmei, “Your Highness, little prince is still very young. He’s highly intelligent and will gain Heavenly Lord’s favors.”
The nursemaid softly urged Yingpei to stop crying, and dried the water droplets from his rosy cheeks, which only made the fellow sob harder. Dongmei bitterly scowled at her son, then covered her ears before dismissing everyone in the chamber, when her head attendant rushed in.
Her most loyal servant, Meixui, reported, “Your Highness, Heavenly Lord has deflowered the new concubine in his usual method, and I’ve sent word to Kunlun Mountain’s pantry assistant as always, so Bai Qian should know by now.”
Dongmei smirked then cheerfully giggled which caused her servant to curiously ask, “Your Highness, it’s been hundreds of years since Gugu married High God Mo Yuan. Do you think she still cares anymore?”
“Oh, Bai Qian cares alright. It must gnaw her insides raw imaging her lover taking one woman after the other. 101 virgins. 101…is not an insignificant number one can easily excuse or overlook.” Her eyes grew when Dongmei confidently declared. “Even if Bai Qian met her beloved today, she probably wouldn’t be able to allow Ye Hua to touch her regardless of how much she desires him, after those many women.
Dongmei extended the fan in her hand, proudly sauntered around the room like a peacock and declared, “Oh well, our Lord could take 1000 virgins, and he would still be under her skin even if she couldn’t bring herself to touch him. She’ll never get over him, our Lord Ye Hua. Why do you think she’s yet to birth any of High God Mo Yuan’s children in all the years they’ve been married?”
“Heavenly Lord Ye Hua marked her body and heart, hence becoming her chosen mate. It’s highly probable that her Fox body rejects Mo Yuan’s seeds. Poor Gugu. The misery and pain a Fox feels being separated from the ‘one’ is close to cutting off a tail but she’s experienced that agony 101 times thanks to us.”
Dongmei lounged back and unconcernedly blew into her cup, then drank her tea before asking, “What about Heavenly Lord’s nightly tonics?” No sooner than the words left her mouth, the attendant in charge of said task came in with an empty bowl for her mistress to visually inspect, as she did every night.
She nodded her approval, motioned the servant away then ordered, “Find another virgin to serve our Lord. As the head of his harem, it’s my duty to serve him and his needs. Do that right away. Make sure to send the bonuses and gold to Minister’s wives as we do every month.”
Dongmei stood, noisy stretched and yawned into her palm before commanding, “I can undress myself tonight. I’m tired so don’t bother me for the rest of the night unless it’s an emergency.”
She waited until her chamber was empty, locked the door, and moved the ornate mirror off the wall to expose the secret compartment behind, then pulled out the reason she was sent to Nine Heavens.
Dongmei slowly unrolled the old secret scroll—
1, 49, 99, 100, 104, 135, 143, 151, 167, 171……
She stared at the rolls and rolls of numbers, and smiled because this one item was why she’s where she is today. Dongmei’s beginning had been humble. However today, she was Heavenly Lord Ye Hua’s second wife and head of his harem.
Her humble start began with her mother who was a mortal, a courtesan and Dongmei was born in a brothel. She never knew her immortal father other than the fact that he was an immortal Fox. After her birth, she and her prostitute mother were forced to move often, traveling from town to town hiding her immortality from those around, who became suspicious of the girl’s delayed growth.
It was on her mortal mother’s deathbed, she finally gave Dongmei a piece of paper with a name, and told her to search for her father in Qingqiu. But at that time, she was too young to find Qingqiu alone, and lived on the streets in the mortal world for hundreds of years, while drifting from one man’s bed to another.
Dongmei’s life was terrible. There were often many times, she resented her mother for not aborting her, but her unfortunate circumstances changed. It happened the day when the man she was living with beat her so severely, then threw her out on the streets and she happened to land at the Fox Empress’s feet.
The compassionate Empress took pity on her, punished the man before taking Dongmei, and entrusting her at the home of a kind couple who were childless in Qingqiu. The Fox family who raised her were ordinary without any wealth, but Dongmei received much love from her adoptive parents, and the beautiful Fox Empress who protected her became her Godmother.
She cherished the Empress who also spoiled her, and took Dongmei to her home to meet the rest of the family. It was there she first met Bai Qian. She had just returned from her heavenly trial when Dongmei met her, and she was so beautiful that she felt like the ugly duckling beside her.
Bai Qian was everything Dongmei wanted to be, and her charisma was such that even to a woman’s eyes it was immense. Not only was Bai Qian beautiful but she was also kind just like her mother. Dongmei casually complimented Bai Qian’s goddess dress, and she without being asked gave Dongmei nearly all the dresses in her wardrobe with shoes to match.
That wasn’t it. Bai Qian took Dongmei into town and introduced her as her favorite cousin. For the first time in her life people respected her, and gazed at her differently thinking she was a part of the royal family.
That was a defining moment, and Dongmei never forgot that thrilling sensation of being respected by strangers. She sincerely aspired to be a real part of the royal family, and over the years became Bai Qian’s most trusted confidante after Bai Fengjiu. Hence, why Bai Qian entrusted Dongmei with the most important of tasks. But it was when she saw Ye Hua, she fell in love with him instantly.
He was so handsome, educated with quiet calmness. Unlike any of the boorish men Dongmei knew and she wanted him to notice her. In the name of love, she chose to disregard the reason she was sent to Nine Heavens. Instead, seduced him with an aphoristic and narcotic in his wine.
She also used fertility medication with the Fox spell Bai Qian taught her to resemble her, so that Ye Hua would trust Dongmei and know she was sent by Bai Qian. Although, Dongmei used the spell for another reason. He was so confused and plastered that he thought she was Bai Qian.
The first night, Ye Hua was so tender and passionate while repeating how much he loved her, but of course called her Qian Qian. He gave her a taste of something new. With him she experienced bodily pleasures like she never knew existed, and to confuse him further for added reassurance, Dongmei smeared blood on him to make him believe that he took her maidenhead.
It was a well thought out plan on her part, but the next morning was entirely different than what she had envisioned. The tender man kicked Dongmei out of bed, and told her to leave immediately after accusing her of drugging him. But she dropped to her knees and begged for mercy.
She deceived him by saying that she was engaged to another man, but since Ye Hua had deflowered her he should take responsibility. Dongmei understood very well from listening to Bai Qian caring on and on about all of his beautiful traits, she knew he was a kind and gentle young man.
She figured he was young and would develop affections for her over time, but his kindness wasn’t real. It was merely Ye Hua being responsible and being accountable for his actions.
He was cold and callous. He never touched Dongmei again. The day he discovered that she was pregnant, he sent presents and gave her the title of Side Consort through his assistant Jia Yun. Ye Hua did the same when Yingpei was born…
Ye Hua’s unfriendly reception was ironically fitting, since Dongmei didn’t know if he was Yingpei’s father. Moreover, she didn’t care if he loved her because even with her low-class birth, she was now the head of Ye Hua’s harem, and would become the Empress Dowager, when her son Yingpei became the next Heavenly Lord.
The medicinal stench still lingered pungently in the air as A-Li, and the servant he recognized from Dongmei’s residence passed each other, while entering his father’s bedchamber. His father appeared further exhausted than usual, and was already in his nightclothes getting ready for bed when A-Li greeted him.
“Father, I’ve returned for the day. I’ve come to wish you a good night’s rest.” A-Li said sniffing at the air.
Annoyance at his father’s careless ways caused A-Li to grimace, “Father, why do you drink that tonic from Dongmei? Do you even know what it is that you’re consuming?”
His father smiled weakly and replied, “It’s for relaxation and if I drink it then I don’t have to see her face. It’s a small price to pay and well worth it.”
“Does it relax you?” A-Li quickly replied. His father smiled the same tired grin and nodded that it did.
A-Li couldn’t help but shake his head disapprovingly at the man, who had once been his hero. Heavenly Lord Ye Hua wasn’t the astute and sharp character he used to be. There was a time not that long ago, when he would have never consumed anything without knowing all the contents of what he was drinking. Now, he was passive and indifferent often frustrating A-Li to no ends. His disappointment was more than evident, when he questioned in an angry voice saturated deep in judgment.
A-Li demanded, “Father, did you take another concubine? When are you going to stop?”
“I’ll stop when I find one that I like.” His father replied then asked, “A-Li, are there any women that you fancy?”
A-Li snorted in disgust before blurting, “I’ll find my own wife, and I’ll only have one wife who will have my children when it’s time. Plus, I’d rather become a monk than live like you.”
It broke his heart to hear his father say something so defeated when he stated, “I used to think like you when I was younger. It’s good to dream, son, but don’t be deceived by romantic ideology. Good night.”
A-Li swallowed hard to clear the lump in his throat because he felt like weeping, but gathered his voice to say, “Father, I’ve been meaning to tell you that I’ve been having headaches. The Medicine King was clueless and sent me to High God Zhe Yan.”
His sleepy father suddenly perked up, his gaze narrowed and intensified on A-Li before he demanded in a voice full of worry, “A-Li, are you suffering from anything else? Have you grown more? Are there any other symptoms? What did High God Zhe Yan say?”
“Zhe Yan said it’s probably nothing, but he’s requested you to come to Ten Miles so that he can take a small blood sample.” His bed ready father immediately sprang out of bed before A-Li finished his sentence.
A-Li chuckled with both hands raised in the air to stop him from dressing, “Not now, Father! Tomorrow. Zhe Yan asked you to come in the afternoon.”
Suddenly his father pampered him as though he were an infant, “A-Li, get some rest. No need to greet me in the morning. Take a break from your studies and rest in bed all day long. Stay in bed a few days until Zhe Yan can give us some answers.”
His father went on to say, “I sent Nai Nai home for a few days for her twin sister’s memorial. It still makes me sad when I think about how Nai Nai’s sister, and Tian Shu got in that terrible accident on their way to their elopement.”
A-Li involuntarily shivered, as he recalled the freak accident that decapitated both his father’s bodyguard, and his nursemaid’s older twin sister. He would never forget their deaths, because it happened the same terrible month everything in his life fell apart.
I’ve gone into seclusion, but didn’t want to wake you since you were sleeping so soundly. I’ll be back in a while. Zhe Yan gave me some wonderful news the other day, and made some revitalizing tonics that will be beneficial in our great cause. Please, go to Ten Miles in the afternoon to pick them up and take them as he advises. I love you.
Your husband, Mo Yuan.
To be continue…