Changying had cast the first stone.
“Tough love is still love. Tough love is still love.”
Changying inwardly repeated to herself like a mantra. As she picked up where she’d left off, and articulated with steadfast conviction since she wouldn’t have started if she not had the nerve and courage to finish what she began.
“The newest concubine Consort Dongmei has in wait for you this evening – your 102nd virgin – has yet fully developed to start her first menstrual cycle. She’s still a child. The girl’s power hungry father ordered her to join your harem to further his future.”
“After tonight, you would have been a pedophile, sex offender on top of everything else if I hadn’t told you this fact. But then I don’t know if her age discourages you, because I have very little faith in your integrity and honor.” She declared.
Changying felt self-righteous since she was honestly speaking from her heart. But strangely, it was beginning to cause her pain to say such cruel things to the man responsible for giving her life.
“Ying’er, what are you talking about?! Stop spouting nonsense this instant! I don’t know what’s gotten into you today!” Her mother barked furiously and this was perhaps the first, since her mother never shouted nor did she lost her temper. However, now she was yelling angrily, while roughly tugging at the sleeve of Changying’s dress.
It only made sense that her mother was in disbelief. Denial. But Changying’s narrowed gaze never left Heavenly Lord’s pale ghost-like face. He was shocked beyond words but managed to say soberly, “Let your daughter speak. Changying, go on and express yourself freely.”
Then with his hand, her father gracefully gestured for her to continue. However, it wasn’t starting to become painful; it was unpleasant to talk about such horrid matters. Still, Changying spoke without reservations because he needed a dose of reality,
“You should be embarrassed that I think so little of you, but what have you been doing while Dongmei has turned you into a laughing stock? Her goal is to make you look more incompetent, so you’ll lose whatever little credibility you have left.”
“Not that you have much to lose since many of your Ministers are under her thumb, and on her monthly payroll. She dreams of becoming the Empress Dowager of Nine Heavens by overthrowing you, and my brother, A-Li, to make her son, Yingpei, the next Heavenly Lord.”
The moment should have felt victorious but it didn’t. It should have given Changying gladness to see her father looking so ashamed, and mortified but it didn’t. If anything, it pierced her heart to see her mother thoroughly disappointed. Heartbroken. And her father appeared so incredibly humiliated.
But since she’d opened the Pandora’s box, Changying continued to speak her mind, “Finally you seem to understand that ‘your’ Celestial Heaven doesn’t belong to you anymore. You’ve lost your authority, power and Nine Heavens is falling apart around you, while you’ve been living in a medicated stupor.”
“But I’m relieved to see some concern on your face and no, I’m not a spy. I’m just a little girl. Nevertheless, you should feel troubled that I, a teenager, would know such private matters living so far from Nine Heavens.”
“Heavenly Lord… Uncle, you need to clean house, or step down from your throne because you’re no longer capable.”
Her distraught mother’s voice cracked as she implored, “Ying’er, please stop. He’s not like that! All these terrible things and everything you’ve heard is deceits. Nothing but rumors.”
Changying turned to her father and calmly said, “I dare you to tell my mother that I’m lying. I challenge you. But if you do then you’re more of a sinister coward than I imagined, and there isn’t any redemption for you.”
Her father said nothing in return to defend himself and instead, dropped his head towards the ground defeated.
Her mother’s response… In all her life, never had Changying seen or heard her mother so miserable. Not even when she lost the babies did she sound so sorrowful as she did now, when she asked her father, “Are you living like this? Why? Shouldn’t you at least be living properly and happy after what you did to me?”
Her father’s head instantly jerked up and his face crimsoned as he bellowed, “What I did to you?! What I did to you?! It was YOU who betrayed A-Li and me! You threw us away when you picked Mo Yuan! You married my brother after telling the whole world that I meant nothing to you!”
The exchange escalated immediately to a full blown heated argument, when her mother screamed back in rage, “What?! How dare you! Don’t act as if you don’t know what I’m talking about! How dare you deny what you and Dongmei did to us, when you chose her and her son over us?!”
To Changying, it sounded as though they were battling in a secret language, since she only understood bits and pieces. However, whatever her mother alleged hit a nerve, and Heavenly Lord Ye Hua furiously hurried toward them.
Changying saw him rushing to them and used her magic, called lightning bolt as powerful as Lord Pu Hua’s that struck a single footstep’s distance ahead of her father. It was powerful, forcefully enough that it propelled him back several feet and to his knees. He wasn’t the only one who dropped, her ashen complexioned mother grabbed her fragile heart, and plummet to the ground when the thunderbolt nearly hit her father.
“Ying’er, stop it! Don’t forget who he is to us!” Her older twin suddenly appeared from between the peach trees, and was furious then ordered, “Take Mother home! You know she has a weak heart and how lightning effects her!”
A-Chang frantically hollered from across the way, waved her arm beckoned a cloud with her mighty magic, forcibly send both Changying and their mother back to Kunlun Mountain.
A-Li had instructed everyone to stay away from Peach Grove, so their parents could reconcile. However, A-Chang was inquisitive and dying from curiosity to see her father. It was a good thing too, because she appeared right before Ying’er was going to blast him with her lightning.
She lightly cleared her throat, turned back and proceeded toward her father, who was just getting on his feet from Ying’er unexpected attack, while still glancing longingly at where her mother had been.
“I’m sorry. Ying’er is still getting comfortable with her new magic. The lightning…are you alright?” A-Chang asked then blushed uncontrollably, because her father was incredibly handsome. He looked just like he had in her mother’s memories but with clothes.
His soft voice was pleasant and tickled her ear when he spoke, “Is this an ambush? You must be…”
“I’m Changchang but everyone calls me A-Chang and you’re my…hmm…” Her father finished her sentence, “I’m your uncle, Ye Hua.”
“My uncle…” She faintly repeated after him before demurely dropping her gaze, because something about looking at her father made her feel shy. But she liked seeing the similarities in their facial features.
A-Chang crimsoned further as she shied away from directly staring at her father’s face, but peeked up at him through her bangs. She saw his hurt expression, felt the need to explain her twin and her brash behavior.
“I know Ying’er sounds hateful but she created, formulated these elixirs personally. It will help with your withdrawals while you detoxify from the poison in your system, and this scroll is a list of people who have been spying on you.” Changchang divulged regarding her twin’s tough front.
“I know her razor blade-like words are detestable but her caring actions speak volumes, and express her actual inner feelings which contradicts her vicious mouth.”
A-Chang held out the bottles and scroll respectfully with both hands. However, her father just stared at her before slowly putting out his palms, and she noticed he had beautiful hands too that looked like hers. Or her hands resembled his, and this fact made her happy causing her to beam like a fool.
“Do you hate me too, A-Chang?” The sadness in his faint voice made her look up. Now his warm and gentle gaze caught hers like a net. She smiled broadly, blushed more and said, “No, the opposite! I love you and I want you to get better. We all do…” Changchang paused to gather her courage then asked, “Can I have a hug?”
Her fearless request caught him off guard. Her charming father sharply sucked in air and smiled, even though he looked like about to cry and whispered, “Yes. I would love to give you a hug.”
She’d waited her entire life to hug him and couldn’t control herself, when Changchang eagerly threw herself into her father’s open arms. Which felt incredible and a million time better than she’d imagined.
Changchang felt warmth emulating from his body, when she used all her strength to embrace her birth father, and read his mind when he wished, “I wish you were my daughter.”
She squeezed him tighter and wordlessly answered, “Father, I am your daughter. Ying’er and I are both your daughters.”
To be continued…..