I did it to give you and us another chance. I drank away our past sorrows so we could start anew. I gulped the water, cleaning my mind and heart for a happily ever after with someone I loved to death. I’m nearly certain that someone is you, Ye Hua. What do you think, Ye Hua, was I your SuSu?
He was stunned speechlessly. Words failed him as Prince Lian Song read the closing of the letter sent by the infamous High Goddess Bai Qian. “Aya, after all the mandates from father and striking Su..” He paused long enough to drastically lower his voice, eyes scanning the perimeter to ensure their conversation would remain private since any mention of Ye Hua’s human wife or speaking her name was taboo. “He had her wiped from the archives in fear your association would mar your reputation, but it’s has had the very opposite effect. Ye Hua, you’re more popular than ever.”
As usual by circumstance, Ye Hua didn’t have a choice but listen to his third uncle’s ramblings since Lian Song had strolled into his chamber and taken to lounging on his bed. Now flipping to his back, his uncle held the scroll from Qingqiu overhead, rereading it as Ye Hua had the previous night before. “The mortals are sharing and singing of your love story in the teahouses. Deity and mortal-play, why didn’t I think of that. Who knew the ladies would fancy such a thing? Even the high and omnipotent Queen Bai Qian, Gugu thinks she may have been SuSu and has been inquiring about you.”
A long sigh of exhaustion expelled from the taut line of his firmly pressed lips. Ye Hua placed the petition from the Eastern Sea aside, raised his tired gaze, his tone matching his weary appearance of another sleepless night, and said, “Gugu is 127. She’s the latest goddess to think she was SuSu, and I’m sure she won’t be the last.”
Both elbows level and resting on his desk, index and third fingers massaged the sides of his head to relieve the building pressure in his throbbing temples, and continued, “Goddesses from near and far have written believing themselves to be the reincarnation of SuSu.” Ye Hua chuckled. However, not out of humor; it was more disbelief than anything else, “I expected this kind of ludicrous confusion from the others, but thought Bai Qian would be more sensible.”
He closed his eyes and spoke in a faint pitch as if he were asking himself more than his uncle. “Why would a stunning woman of her status and prestige marry into a situation where loneliness will be her only companion and her bed forever cold and empty? I was honest when I told her that all my love belonged to another, and I would never stop waiting for SuSu.”
“Ye Hua, this part about protecting Susu makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. She wants to be your friend. She says right here,” Lian Song pointed to the passage and read aloud from Bai Qian’s letter,
“We may never be lovers or form any romantic affections, yet wouldn’t it be nice to have someone on your side? Someone with the power and bearing to protect Consort SuSu.”
Lian Song held the scroll to his forehead as he recalled the past, “Bai Qian..well Si Yin slew over 40 demons with one swipe of her Jade Purity Fan. That was before she ascended, so I can’t imagine what she must be like now. Hmmm, if anyone could protect SuSu, it would be Queen Bai Qian.”
“One can’t dispute, Gugu is a force to be reckoned with, and nobody would want to be on the receiving side of her wrath. Marrying this most generous High Goddess and enjoy the benefits of having an influential, powerful supporter may be what you need precisely. Ye Hua, you don’t have any friends, so it’s a win-win in my book.” Lian Song chatted, fanning himself with the scroll leisurely.
“Uncle Lian Song, when a woman says she wants to be just friends, it’s the ultimate deception. It’s the Trojan Horse technique of seduction by putting the man at ease, getting close to him while trying to access his heart and affections.” Ye Hua said this, but in his mind, Bai Qian’s letter, which he had memorized, flipped in his head.
It would be a lie if he didn’t admit there was within him some curiosity, and her tenderness towards A-Li’s situation had struck a chord in his heart. Was it possible to become “friends” with someone like Bai Qian? Was it possible to remain platonic while watching her cradling his infant son, or would he become bitter after seeing she wasn’t SuSu after all?
“Ye Hua, let’s write back! Ask Bai Qian more about her return. I mean, it’s intriguing, no? The commonalities between her and SuSu are something to consider. Maybe we could sneak off and meet her somewhere so you could see her face?”
Lian Song excitedly flipped over, propped his chin on his gathered hands, and turned his gaze upwards, “Wouldn’t that be something if Bai Qian were SuSu? It would be a miracle, but miracles happen. Look at your mother, Consort Le Xu. She was barren for 30,000 years and then went into labor three days after becoming pregnant. Some say she conceived you after touching the Golden Lotus on Kunlun Mountain, and here’s the kicker, the ‘TADA’ moment.”
Abruptly Lian Song perched upon the bed’s very edge inspired and exclaimed, “Hold on to your scales, Dragon Boy, but the caretaker and guardian of that Golden Lotus was none other than Si Yin, our renowned High Goddess Bai Qian! Maybe that’s a bit over the top, but what a legendary tale it would make.”
Ye Hua couldn’t hide the fact that he didn’t share his uncle’s enthusiasm. The realist knew such plots were fictional, and his discouraged expression further darkened, somewhat annoyed, frustrated his uncle would fill his head with such ridiculous and hopeless notions.
He wasn’t a stranger to his uncle’s moods and whims. Lian Song often got caught up in his overly optimistic mindset, but after seeing Ye Hua’s saddened expression, it seemed to take all the wind from his sails. “I’m sorry, Ye Hua. I’m getting old, senile, and talking nonsense. I know you have work to do.”
Third uncle brought himself to his feet, haphazardly straightened his wrinkled garment by pressing his hands against the creased material, turned just his head towards Qingqiu, and spat thrice, “Tat, tat, tat! Shame on you, Gugu, trying to trick my poor little nephew Ye Hua with your sweet words of support and delusions of being SuSu! A woman, your age should know better!”
“This is what I think of your happily ever after!” Declared Lian Song and forcibly thrust the parchment into the colorless flame of the Soul Gathering Lamp. Neither could have foreseen it, but the transparent flare suddenly flickered aqua blue in hue as it did when he burned articles that belonged to SuSu, causing third uncle to nearly losing his bladder and Ye Hua almost passed out.
With the upcoming wedding, which was perhaps the most significant in many millennials, Qingqiu had seen more guests than usual. Bai Qian and her sisters-in-law were making final adjustments on her wedding gown when Migu wandered off to greet another visitor outside the Fox den. In a frantic state, he returned and announced most shock, “Gugu, there’s someone here demanding to see you, and he is young, tall, dark, and ridiculously handsome!”
Tensely Bai Qian jumped up with saucer round eyes and asked in a whisper, “Migu is our ‘guest’ dressed in all black?”
“Yes, Gugu,” The tree spite nodded and replied in a pitch that matched hers.
First, sister-in-law Wenling joined the whispering pair and exclaimed, “My tails!” Then asked, “Is he by chance a…. Celestial?
With quick dips and nods, Migu tilted his head in the affirmative, humming, “Mhm. It’s HIM!”