The Calm Before the Storm…
He had been feeling restlessly unsettled and unable to relax or sleep anymore.
She explained, “It’s a physical recharge of all your natural endorphins, and energy since your newly purified body is cleansed free of the narcotic pollutants.” Ye Hua blushed when Changying said, “You’re probably anxious to get back to your former life, and large harem that are impatiently awaiting your return.”
Mo Yuan’s younger daughter, Changying, was his physician and quiet companion on Mount Junji in the world of mortals. It was she who had been caring for him, kept him company and called him Heavenly Lord instead of Uncle Ye Hua. The older twin, Changchang, whom he felt a distinct closeness due to her affectionate, and touchy feely nature also referred him by his title. Yet, he never forced the issue considering strangely the notion of being called Uncle Ye Hua by her, or Changying felt fundamentally wrong.
It was time for their afternoon walk but something was different today. Ye Hua watched as Changying went to the rafter. She stood on her tiptoes, reached then opened the wicker birdcage that had once been used by her mother. Her small hand, she gently stuck inside; from her patient, a display of resistance to her coaxing, as the usually affectionate blue jay moved away from her touch. It seemed to sense what was happening. The brightly plumage songbird thought the little girl was his mother, since she found the abandoned chick before it opened its eyes. She was the first to come into his sight, and now the blue jay didn’t want to leave her side.
“You have to go. There’s a storm approaching and I won’t be coming here anymore.” She spoke to the bird sweetly, and the songbird in return sang back to her just as sweetly.
With quiet steps, Ye Hua crossed the small room to get closer but lingered behind. He felt like an interrupter because the moment between them felt personal, private as if he was intruding on their farewell. But then he was next. And even though he was fully aware this day of their separation was coming, there was a growing sadness in him at the prospect of not seeing either of the girls anymore. So he watched her letting his eyes become full of her while he had the chance.
Now in the little girl, he recognized someone else. He fell into a deeper melancholy as Changying, with the same cold indifferent detachment just like her mother, to the baby bird she had cherished, adored and tenderly cared for threw it in the air and forcefully drove, chased it away as if it meant nothing to her. Out of sight out of mind. She turned her back. Her attention immediately shifted as she began to release the other healed animals, such as the little red fox who had come to her after being attacked by a bear, and burned chipmunk from their cages. However, the poor confused bird rather than leaving, perched on a branch close by, intently watched the only mother he knew, and Ye Hua detected profound longing from the feathered outcast.
Suddenly Ye Hua felt like the cast out blue jay. Or he understood the bird’s yearning.
His eyes abruptly felt warm, moist. There were several reasons, when Ye Hua’s gaze automatically shifted up toward the clear blue, and cloudless sky – tears – he wanted to weep. Was it logical to be so attached to children sired by his most despised once love rival? Perhaps not, nevertheless, he wanted to cry. Instead, from him there was a subtle provocation, when he challenged Changying in a teasing voice, “I don’t foresee any rain. I think this is your way of breaking up with me, Saintess.”
His hand drifted toward her. It was the polished, black, teardrop shaped stone roughly the size of an egg. Set in the open mouth of the soaring Dragon on the tip of her hairpin that drew his touch even though he wanted to stroke her silky hair. All three children; A-Li, Changchang and Changying inherited their mother’s long, thick, silky tresses and mane.
The diamond was icy. Like her temperament, the black gemstone was cold to the touch. With absolute certainty, Ye Hua had anticipated her to recoil from his unexpected touch but she didn’t. Rather than flinching away or becoming angry, she uttered soft voiced, “Chaos is coming. It’s the calm before the storm.”
She turned and faced him. Their eyes coincided and held each other’s gazes, “Nothing will ever be the same after today. Heavenly Lord, your, mine and everyone’s peaceful lives are about to be turned upside down, and change forever.” Changying punctuated her cryptic statement with a little frown.
And as she let the last of the creatures, a pair of monarch butterflies free, Changying declared, “Right on time as usual. The storm has arrived. You should greet your guest who is waiting outside. It’s rude to keep a woman waiting.”
Ye Hua’s throat tightened at the mention of the feminine company, since it could only be her to come to him there at their cottage. But her daughter paused then continued, and there was a tinge of regret in her sweet voice, “I’m sorry to disappoint you because it’s not my mother. It is someone who resembles her. Or someone my mother resembles. It’s my Empress grandmother and she’s here to tell you the truth. Every dirty, ugly, shocking and deceitful details. All of it, you’ll hear from her.”
It was perhaps… No, it was the most affectionate gesture from her, when Changying suddenly handed Ye Hua a painting. Now in his hand, there was a remarkable lifelike illustration of a Black, and Golden Dragon set in combative stances.
“I don’t know what is going to happen between everyone in the future, but it was nice getting to know you, Heavenly Lord.” Changying’s voice was suddenly full of respect.
Politely she rounded her arms. Standing on ceremony she inclined, bowing to him for the first time amidst her obscure goodbye, “My father, my hero, Mo Yuan, on Kunlun Mountain, I love him more than anyone else in the world, and nothing or nobody will ever change that. Or take that away from me. I hope you will keep that in consideration, before proceeding with what you feel is necessary for your Bàofù against him, and his deeds.”
It was unfitting coming from a baby’s mouth. The maturity in her voice had a ring of what was it? Encouragement? No, it was more like a gentle warning when she said, “And if I may say so, some of the people that were taken from you are no longer yours. It’s been too long and too much time passed, so I wonder if reclaiming them is such a good thing.”
She took a wide step toward him filling the gap between them, and now there was a greater feeling of closeness when she declared somberly, “A certain person, the one you want, the one you call out for in your sleep doesn’t even know to whom they belong anymore. Therefore, I have to ask, is it suitable? Is it the correct thing to do uprooting them from their homes and lives?”
Now an unforeseen hug from the iceberg princess. Changying wrapped her slender arms around his waist, and firmly pressed her wet tear drenched cheek. Her soft baby cheek to his chest she squeezed and mumbled, “Heavenly Lord, when you find yourself at the crossroad and I know you will. I sincerely hope you will rationally choose to walk away, instead of rushing to her as you have in the past.”
Why was her farewell and departure from him so haunting? So damn unnerving? So heartbreaking? After speaking in charades obscurely, the little one vanished before his sight as if she had never been there. She walked out of his life as strangely and quietly as she had entered.
Just like that, she was gone after leaving her parting gift. One single painting so he thought but instead it was the clue, the answer to his long asked question. It wasn’t in the distinct strokes that were much like fingerprints unique to the artist who made them. Her work resembled, it oddly echoed his artwork as if he had painted it. Although, the part that caught his undivided attention was the colors of the eyes of the Dragons.
Ye Hua finally knew the answer to the question that had plagued him for years. How could children fathered by two men have such likeness to each other that it was uncanny? Qian Qian’s children’s strange green eyes, they weren’t the only ones with such unusual coloring.
They were similar, no, identical to his. Same as Ye Hua’s Black Dragon, unlike Mo Yuan’s Golden Dragon who had golden eyes with deep amber centers. Ye Hua like in the painting, his Black Dragon had the same shade green iris with icy blue sunburst pupils as his children.
The answer was simple. The children all had the same father. The twin girls were his daughters.
Her roseate blushed cheeks turned bright red from rage. “Has Consort Dongmei lost her damn mind? Changchang is just a child and my husband is currently in seclusion.” She was livid. Outraged. Bai Qian’s soft voice and body trembled from anger, while tightly clutching the distinct Dragon hair ornament she recognized as Changchang’s.
Dressed in white, the Celestial officers glanced back, and forth at each other nervously before the head guard declared, “Princess Changchang was discovered breaking into Consort Dongmei’s residence, and she’s in detention in the cold palace. Her Highness Consort Dongmei insists that you come in person. Not your husband, High God Mo Yuan, but you, Shimu, or she will not release the little princess.”
To be continued…..