It’s only been moments since the Qingqiu’s Mystic Gorge greeted me and returned inside the fox hole to inform his mistress of my arrival. My body was a slave to my heart when I impulsively rushed, hopping on the first lucky cloud that came to sight without forethought how my arrival may appear or tell my uncle about my plans.
My quickly running mind, my thoughts have nothing on my frantically speeding heart as it races inside my anxious chest. All my logic and good manners seem to have gone out the window as I contemplate barging into the royal dwelling of my future in-laws without an invite because I need to see her. Impatiently, one foot lifts to move forwards when an older woman of the highest cultivation that only mirrors her extraordinary beauty blocks my intended path.
Most politely with graceful hands gathered, bowed, she dips even though it’s obvious, her cultivation and immortality outrank me by tens of thousands of years. Her voice is kind, regal with a smidge of reprimand, though lacking genuine malice or judgment. There’s a motherly presence about her, “Crown Prince, we had not received word you would be visiting Qingqiu before the wedding.”
“Empress, forgive me,” I reply, bowing deeply respectfully to the Fox Empress, and under normal circumstances, I would be blushing, but my dire need to see Bai Qian has gobbled up any sense of shame. “Just a moment of Qian…” Stammering, shocked by my informal address of my future wife after correcting myself, I continue, “I need only a moment of High Goddess Bai Qian’s time, please.”
Vanity and self-conceit of one’s outer appearance are not traits one should hold in positive regards, and I’m not one to use my looks as a bartering tool, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The Fox Empress may be older, but she is a female, and I can only hope she too will swoon or at least weaken from my good looks, so I smile, which is unusual for me.
Sweet success! Not only does she returns the smile but goes on to flatter me with compliments, “My, oh my, I foresee my future grandchildren will be most beautiful, and my daughter will enjoy marriage immensely.” Deliberately, slowly appreciating the view before her, the Empress’s admiring gaze travels from my Dragon boots to the top of my head before meeting my eyes, “My daughter, my baby she-cub, is one lucky woman in this marriage agreement for your resemblance to someone she admired greatly is uncanny and Prince, Ye Hua, you are as others have raved…fetching. But alas, no can do! I can’t permit such a meeting at this moment in time. I’m so very sorry.”
Denied!? I consider using a freezing spell and side-stepping the Empress, but my magic may be ineffective on a seasoned immortal as she. Begging isn’t my style, but style, be damn when love is at stake. I’m begging in earnest, “On my name, just a second with a chaperone, of course. Just one look at my future princess consort, and I promise not to be a nuisance.”
Sweat drips down my hairline. The diamond-like beauty, my future mother-in-law, snickers amused by my determination but with a smile refuses my heartfelt request, “I’m sorry but after Second Prince Sang Ji, the Ba snake and that terrible humiliation. If I allow you two to see one another and you for some unfathomable reason break off this engagement… well, my poor fifth cub will die an old unmarried maid. I can’t take that chance, but the bride has asked me to give you this.”
The Fox Empress handed him a flowing white gown with long sweeping sleeves. In his hand, the dress SuSu had on the last time he saw her on the day of her death. “Such a lovely dress, but it wasn’t in this flawless condition when she returned. However, she has been perfecting her sewing skills while waiting for you to awake from your coma, and my little girl said to tell you that she can’t wait to take moonlighted walks holding your hand under the twinkling stars with your infant son, Ali. At the same time, you all live happily ever after.”