He wouldn’t be her father if it didn’t sting a tad, which it did. Ying’er’s cold reception of sorts was far from the enthusiastic greeting he’d hoped for, but he tried not to take it personally. He understood her. They were quite alike in personality. So this grievously vast, palpable, and painfully apparent distance between father and daughter would have to be for the time being.
The silence between them was awkward, neither speaking while cloud riding away from the place she’d known to be her home since birth. But Ye Hua watched her from the corner of his eyes, and as he had expected, his magically exhausted younger daughter Ying’er toppled over before collapsing in his arms from weariness before arriving at the Sky Palace.
She had bled considerably from her nose and eyes. Ye Hua called his most trusted Medicine King to give her a swift but comprehensive exam to put his concerns to rest. Only then had he carefully tucked Changying into bed with her older twin and rushed back to the Pavilions of Peonies. The Empress’s Palace was the most striking of those in Heaven and built directly where the Hall of Beautiful Youth had once stood. As he crossed the atrium and flourishing peach trees, currently heavily abundant with fat, rounded ripening fruits in the central courtyard, a little smile came to his lips as an old memory crossed to mind.
It started when Qian Qian gave birth to the twins, and Kunlun’s bells chimed, tolling in celebration. Ye Hua went on a liquid diet of wine and harder liquors. He stayed in a stupor of intoxication for six days straight before having the once consecrated. SuSu’s resident demolished and leveled to the ground as little Ali cried hysterically on bent knees begging his father to stop.
The inconsolable toddler didn’t and couldn’t understand. It was a tainted site with too much history and far too many memories. Excessive tragedy, betrayal, and misfortune had occurred there. The presence of the structure itself silently mocking, reminding Ye Hua that his love wasn’t there… And she wasn’t his wife anymore. The hall was tortuously symbolic of his futile hopes and unfulfilled dreams—a painful eyesore. Thus he tore it down and started anew.
It was unlike his subdued ways, but he’d made it a big production so all would hear of his plans—especially those far on Kunlun Mountain. From the start, the groundbreaking ceremony alone for the new palace had been grandly impressive. Nothing was impossible to obtain. He had not spared any expense or skimped on rare materials when Ye Hua began rebuilding a more elegant abode in its place.
It all seemed so logical. He told himself that his actions reflected his emotional growth, showing he had moved on without lingering sentiments for his ex-wife, now sister-in-law. Granted, not a planned affair, but he took another wife, had a child within their first marriage years, presented the mother of his new son Prince Yingpei, Imperial Consort’s status, and established his quickly expanding harem.
Ye Hua’s acting and show were persuasive. Immortals and gossip-mongers everywhere carried on about the splendid palace that quickly came to completion, wondering when he would make his second wife Consort Dongmei his Empress. He had convinced everyone, especially himself… Well, just about everyone was convinced until Ali pointed out some significant details nobody else would dare to bring up aloud.
By then, Ali had gone through his bewildering growth spurt and stood only an inch to an inch and half shorter than his father with a broader chest. When they were side by side, they appeared like brothers more than father and son. One day to the immortals from near and far that assembled to admire the newly completed castle, Ali announced, “Those halls will remain empty until Heavenly Father’s Empress, my biological mother Bai Qian, returns to Heaven to take her predestined place beside him.”
One of the oldest, an elderly long white-bearded immortal from the southern desert, had laughed at the boy’s naivety and ludicrous comment, only to have Ali reply with unwavering resolve, “My mother’s peach saplings stopped growing the day she left.” Ali smugly gestured to the dry, bare, brittle looking trees that littered the exquisite grounds that looked like kindling wood with both his arms and explained, “The blooms, the leaves have all fallen off. They look terrible like dead things, skeletal, un-aesthetically pleasing, and ugly. Yet one must wonder why doesn’t Heavenly Father cut them down? Respected immortals, therein, reveal the Skylord’s inner musings. Perhaps he too is awaiting her return like her peach trees.”
Ali hadn’t stopped there.
“The exterior is indeed Celestial in design; however, inside the decor is an innovative blending of the grandiose befitting a Celestial Empress and understated comfortable cozy-chic kind of like a den suitable for a Fox. Also, there’s a beautiful lotus pond filled with….Qingqiu Lotuses.”
Ali had addressed the growingly confused crowd with gathered and rounded arms, looking more like the star actor of an opera troupe than the Crown Prince “Pray tell, dear respected elders for this young Crown Prince is confused and ridiculous? But why would the Skylord decorate this Celestial court with flowers from Qingqiu if not for my mother, High Goddess Bai Qian?”
The superior, self-satisfied look on Ali’s expressive face and that dazzling smile he had inherited from his mother made Ye Hua’s blood pressure spike to a dangerous level. Never had he laid a finger on his children for punishment or even considered it, but that was one time, he almost whipped Ali’s backside in public.
In hindsight, Ye Hua’s young son had known him better and saw through his misleading efforts with more clarity than himself. He was waiting for her too but couldn’t admit that sobering fact to himself.
It smells heavenly. The sweet fruity scent of peaches and peonies in bloom reminds me of a field of honeysuckles but stronger. This path, this marbled path along the fragrant lotus pond, I’ve walked many nights moving unnoticed like a shadow or phantom.
I say this because there was once a time I felt like the resident ghost here. When we were apart, my insomnia made it impossible to sleep, and I knew I’d be tossing and turning all night. I used to come here and sit in the dark alone. Usually intoxicated, I’d stare at the bed conflicted. A part of me despised her; the other still desired her while hating myself for being there at all.
So in a way, this moment is like one of my fantasies. It’s surreal because she’s here now. Qian Qian is still in deep slumber and hadn’t even moved or changed her body positioning since I left moments ago. I catch a reflection of myself in the mirror across the room, and thank goodness, she’s asleep. She’d probably laugh at me for looking like a lovestruck teenager ogling her from a distance… That makes me chuckle to myself. None could call me, the Skylord a lovestruck teenager but her.
Belatedly but the gravity of her being here with me seems to have finally hit. And the significance of her presence has settled on my shoulders. My feet suddenly seem to weigh a ton each, stuck, unyielding and refusing to move. Absolute awe wells up in me. Her dazzling beauty renders me unable to move as my eyes drink in the vision of her. There isn’t any disputing her captivating, sensuous appeal. Her rosy complexion glows luminously draped in a sheer pale, silver moonlight colored nightgown. The see-through lingerie, a blessed gift from a fertility fairy from the northern desert, clings to her like liquid mercury hugging every slope and curve on her voluptuous, hourglass-shaped body. The plunging neckline doesn’t hold back her buxom breasts that have toppled out, and her tiny, narrow waist merely emphasizes the swell, the bell-shaped curvature of her hips that leads to her shapely legs.
Hush. It’s quiet except for the sound of our breathing and maybe my racing heart. Even in her sleep, her ultra-sensitive Fox’s ears twitch in my direction. Sleepy bedroom eyes. Her heavy-lidded half-opened gaze narrows on me, standing at the entryway, “What are you doing? Are you coming or going?” She purred, stretching out like a kitten lazily in a way that makes her rounded breasts heave tantalizingly.
My mouth waters. I’m dying to get her breasts in my mouth, but my slender hand with an extended palm gesture in a wave-like motion, “You’re so beautiful when you sleep. I didn’t want to wake you.” With wide strides I cross, the vast room to her bedside in less than five steps, kneel and take her small hand caressing the skin with my lips, “Before you returned, I used to wander in here and sit in this unoccupied bed-chamber and image you expecting me in bed just as you are now. Qian Qian, if I’m dreaming, don’t wake me.”
“Ye Hua, husband.” Her voice tender, sweet like honey. Lovingly with her warm gaze and body language, an outstretched hand, she beckoned, “Come back to our bed and tell me where did you go?”
It’s been ages since I’ve used this particular magic because it’s a spell of laziness. But I use it now and remove all my clothing to slip into her open embrace. I fall into her arms, burying my face into her bosom, and she holds me. The blending of our energies makes my skin break out into goosebumps, shivering when our bodies intertwine.
I’ve never known my mother’s embrace, but this comforting sensation I feel bathed in makes me consider our children quite fortunate to have her as their mother. The warmth and soft peach blossom scent wafting from her cause my body to react. My manhood stirs to life instantly as I mold myself as closely as possible, hugging her to me. My jaw grazes her collarbone, long wisps of her unbound hair fall forward, brushing against my face when she leaned down to kiss me ever so lightly.
“Empress, I escorted Princess Ying’er home,” I whisper against her lips.
Her smooth forehead creases. A dark cast of concern clouds her face suddenly. Qian Qian’s nose wrinkled, sniffing the air, “I smell blood on you, Ye Hua. Is everything all right?”
“Ying’er had little nose bled. Nothing to fret over. And, I made sure she was bathed and her dirty garments changed before putting her into bed with A Chang.” I’m using my soothing, don’t worry voice, speaking softly, sounding as relaxed as possible not to fluster her. It’s only been a few days since she has become responsive, intimate, and accepting of my nearness. Therefore, what I had witnessed on Mount Kunlun, I’ll keep to myself.
Changying levitating, floating in the air with her slender, little arms extended towards the dark moonless midnight sky. Fresh blood gushed forth spurting, pouring from her nose and eyes, bloody tears, crimson mucus running into her mouth then discharging out in tiny sprays onto her chin. Droplets, blood rubies soaked, soiled, sullied the high ivory collar of her taffeta dress, turning it deep carmine as she whispered her enchantment. She had called upon the elements controlling them to her command effortlessly. At the same time, her waist-long, wildly flapping hair and her Dragon’s tail, black things whipping her surroundings, protecting her.
The twins are White Dragons. The entire world knows this, so it’s the black coloring of her tail that has me perplexed.
“Ying’er will adjust. Sleep, time, and patience are what she needs most. She is resilient and fated to prevail mightily… Apples don’t fall far from the tree. Have faith she is your daughter after all.” She sighs wistfully, squeezing, hugging harder to reassure me and maybe herself. “Yet I do mourn for their loss of innocence. Ali and the girls are babies, yet a mysterious illness has caused their bodies to age prematurely. I fear they will have another growth spurt and another after that one… I blame myself for all of this.”
I hear profound shame and grief in her sorrowful voice, “It was foolish of me wasting all that precious time after my calamity. I should have returned to you and Ali instead of plotting for revenge. The karmic backbite from my wrongdoings has gone straight to our children. They are the ones who suffer from my mistakes.” Raining diamonds. Clear diamond-shaped teardrops overfill, balloon in her dark eyes before streaming down her cheeks and landing on my forehead.
“Let’s not dwell in that terrible place called, Regret. Qian Qian, we’ve lost too much time together. So now, this moment, the here and now is priceless, too fresh and glorious. As you said, children are resilient and will prevail mightily. Forgive me. I may be a selfish bastard because as long as I have you by my side, near me in whatever capacity, I’m satisfied.”
Pressing my face into her breast deeper, my confession, “Do you know I ached every day without you? Emptiness should feel numb, no?” I’ve lost control over my tear ducts, and my watering eyes betray me, “But it didn’t. It burned every fucking day without you, and my life felt worthless and in vain. I know I should have been stronger for Ali’s and Yingpei’s sakes… yet without you, I was a lost man without sound mind, body, or soul.”
We’re both sobbing. I’m sure most men would consider it a sign of weak character and wouldn’t openly cry in front of their wives, but this moment between us feels therapeutic, “Qian Qian, finally our broken family are all together in the same place at the same time. That fact alone makes us stronger than before. We are an unbeatable family.”
Qian Qian’s tears flowed harder. Her voice is tense, doubtful, trembly. Her chest rattles between sobs, broken, jagged breaths; she responds, “Ye Hua, being together is a blessing, but being together and standing together for a united cause are two very different things. And as for being in the same place, making us stronger is false. It makes us a prime target and more vulnerable. We’re all in one location. Thus a well-planned and perfected executed attack could take your entire bloodline and us all out in one stroke.”
To be continued…