My days have been silent, long, and lonely. My keepers treat me politely like an unexpected and distant visitor, but nobody speaks to me directly. Every so often, a beautiful older woman of regal poise who bears a striking resemblance to Bai Qian comes to look at me and quietly surveys my surroundings, then leaves without uttering a word. I think she’s the Fox Empress, and if that’s the case, I’m in Qingqiu.
It’s difficult to explain, but I feel the healing energy flowing around me. Qingqiu is truly a mystical place. I’ve only been here a few weeks at the most, but the madness that plagued my mind for hundreds of years has lifted, and my sanity has returned. I’m totally lucid but disoriented about how much time has passed since my fake suicide in the cold palace.
My confusion stems from the strange green-eyed young immortal who calls himself Ali. It doesn’t add up in my head since Ali was only 300 hundred old and a child when the trials occurred, and this strapping immortal appears at least 50,000 in age. He wears a deep emerald robe that matches his vibrant rounded eyes, and on his robe’s sleeves, the Celestial Dragon embroidering in white. He must be speaking the truth about his identity since only Ali can dress in such attire, and his delicate facial features are hauntingly like Bai Qian’s.
He has inherited her iniquitous unusual humor. It’s twisted and warped because he brought me a pair of eyes from a recently deceased immortal woman. Smiling ear to ear, in a way that showed off his dazzling white teeth, he said, “SuJin, you should kowtow to me…You always wanted to be married to my father, and those eyes once belonged to that traitorous whore Dongmei, father’s second wife. So in a roundabout way, a part of you is married to my father. Congratulations.” He can barely keep from snickering amused.
He leans close, and I fought back the urge to shiver from his touch. Icy cold hands push against my face when Ali removes the bullfrog eyes in my sockets and replaces them with the new pair. Then his glowing green gaze narrowed on me full of hate, but his smile widened, “How does it feel to have your vision returned, you soul-less bitch?”
Faintly, I reply rapidly, blinking while getting accustomed to my new eyes, “Blame the circumstances and not the opponents—unrequited love. Note me, Crown Prince Ali, my love for your father was my driving motivation, dream, and my downfall. Your mother was nothing but a roadblock who stood between Ye Hua and me. And I did what I needed to rid myself and him of her. You only know bits and pieces, young prince. If you knew my story, perhaps you wouldn’t be so quick to judge me, and you might even pity me a little….”
Her name was Chenguang, and she was born on a small dairy farm in the eastern desert province of SuJin. One day she was tending to the cows with her father, and the next, she was an orphan. The Ghost War changed the little girl’s life and destiny. She lost her family and entire clan in one day, but ignorance was bliss, as the old saying goes. Too young and unaware. She was too young to understand her losses. To the youngster, her shiny new gains seemed far more significant.
It was like one of her fairy tales. A humble farm girl had turned into a princess overnight, so she never cried, thought about her deceased parents, or missed her old name when the Skylord changed hers to Sujin after her former clan. They dressed her like a doll in the most delicate and finest dresses. Servant’s tended to her every need from the moment she opened her eyes in the morning until her head hit the silken pillow at night.
Her fate changed further when First Prince Yang Cuo and Consort Le Xu became her foster parents. They had been childless for 30,000 years when the Skylord put her under their care. Consort Le Xu taught SuJin how to behave correctly with decorum and manners befitting a Celestial Princess. She did her best to bring them pride, and her reward was after Consort Le Xu gave birth to Ye Hua, the new Crown Prince, Sujin was allowed near the imperial baby while others were not.
Heavenly Lord was a cold-hearted, callous, and overly ambitious man with an old fashioned mindset. He forced Consort Le Xu to live apart from her newborn son in fear she would pamper him too much, turning him into a weak, momma’s boy. The stringent Skylord had put strict demands on Ye Hua since he was a toddler. Friends were out of the question; playtime didn’t exist. The young Crown Prince studied from sunrise until twilight with SuJin by his side as his assistant.
SuJin watched him grow from a child to a desirable young man. She followed him everywhere like a shadow. She told herself, one day, Ye Hua would come around and realize that they were meant, fated to be a happily married couple. Fueled by love, she put in a great effort, making it a point to be extra chatty when they were together to get his attention. She told him of the exciting events occurring around him since he was stuck studying, sharing only her best jokes and banter.
Dejectedly for her, Ye Hua was the silent type, a brooding, distant child from infancy. Try as she may, she couldn’t get through his artic cold exterior.
“Crown Prince Ali, there is no pain greater than being despised by the one you cherish most.” SuJin wiped her tears from her wet cheeks, “I’ve lived my life in the disappointment of not being seen by Ye Hua. He’s always looked through me as if I were glass.” Her tears ran down her face in a heavy flow like a river.
Slowly, sarcastically, Ali smirked, clapping as he walked towards her, but it was more like how a panther would slowly creep up on its prey. “Poor fucking you. So innocent, like a fairy tale… indeed,” His thick eyebrows arched just like his mother’s, “But…”
Ali rushed forward in a way that made SuJin hurriedly scurry back away, afraid. He spoke in a soft but authoritative voice, “You’ve left out the best parts about taking my mother SuSu’s mortal eyes, then ripping her immortal ones out too and chewing into them as if they were jerky. Knock off the martyr act. You’re a murderous bitch. Do you realize why I haven’t told my sisters about you? Into ribbons, they would tear you apart, limb-by-limb with their sharp Dragon teeth. Don’t try to play on my sympathies because I kept you alive all this time.”
Now it was the tone and style of utter indifference that was just like his cold father’s, “I’m only doing it because I need you.”
She hadn’t worked alone. Someone of great power and prestige had partaken in her crimes, if not been the very backbone to her schemes. “I was and am a powerless low ranking immortal. Your great imperial grandfather, the previous Celestial Lord, was my power source and backing.
She sounded forlorn, “I did the Skylord’s biddings so he wouldn’t dirty his hands personally. He instructed me what to do then, and might get in the way this time around also.” SuJin had not heard any news of the Previous Skylord. She didn’t know if he had paid for his crimes with thunder punishment or exiled somewhere to suffer 100 lifetime curse of calamities.
Ali made wide circles by his head with his pointed index finger, “My great imperial grandfather is mentally unstable. He’s a mad, raving lunatic who lives in the North sea. He lost his mind after I gave him a dose of my mother’s grief. I gave him a sample of what his handy work did to her emotionally.” Matter of factly declared Ali, then whistled a jovial sounding melody as he sauntered out her dwelling.
To be continued…