Since the beginning of our dynasty, every noble family, depending on their merits, is recorded in the royal annals. Their moments of fame and glory, mentioned here and there similar to ink spatters upon the ancient scrolls. Only the Bai family has their own section in the royal library. Close to five dozen scrolls are dedicated to their family alone due to their countless accomplishments.
Legends tell the first Emperor, my great great great great…for simplicity sake allow me to say, my ancestor snuck out of the Forbidden City without his usual escort to leisurely catch fish at a nearby pond. Disguised as a commoner without a single guard, my forebearer quietly sat with his bare feet and pole in the water, throwing back the fishes he caught. A small band of the army from the previously fallen dynasty, passing by, recognized him and decided to assassinate him to regain their honor. They attacked without warning or provocation. The Emperor would have indeed perished that day if it wasn’t for one young fisherman.
Armed with only his fishing rod, strings, lake grass reeds, and flute, Bai Bohai, like his name ‘powerful as the sea,’ took down the entire army of fifty men. When the bewildered and shaken Emperor asked the young man why he intervened instead of running away and how he knew he was fighting on the righteous side by defending him?
The young man swiftly knelt and replied, “A malicious-hearted person does not tenderly place caught fishes back into the pond. Especially not after looking at each with admiration and pride since everything living under heaven are your subjects. How could I not recognize the sun, the one ruler of our nation? Even without your royal dragon garment, your benevolence shines like a golden aura, your Majesty. Had I succumbed today, it would have been an honorable death serving you.”
Touching. It’s written this brought tears of delight to my ancestor’s eyes. The Emperor took the young man with him, ordaining the Bai name one of the noblest in all the land. He gifted his favorite princess sister to the new Lord. They lived virtuously and had four talented sons. Each exceptional son had four of their own, and so forth—each generation more outstanding than the previous. Since then, every Emperor has had a Bai protector by his side. My guard is Bai Zhen. Unbeknownst to him, his nickname amongst the females is ‘Beautiful Brother Bai.’
The Bai household is an unusual bunch. Their men marry only once, taking just one legal wife. They firmly practice monogamy in our polyamorous supportive culture. If a wife passes away first, the widowed man remains unmarried, and his household needs cared for by the other female family members until their death.
Like their name Bai, ‘white,’ they are unsullied, honest, and humble people. There has never been a Bai scandal or a child born out of wedlock. Affairs, secret mistresses, and shady visits to the pleasure boats, they refrain. When asked why they preferred these unconventional marital practices? Their answers are logically perfect. They repeat their family mantra used when they make their offerings and pray to the God of War. ‘Wèi bǎowèi ér shēng de zhàndòu.’ Battle born and born to defend.
If they fell while in combat, the burden on their household would be too excessive if they kept multiple wives. The other is that since they see so much conflict in their homes, they enjoy the peace and quiet of not having bickering jealous wives.
The latter. I think the second reason is more accurate, and I also believe it’s based on Bai’s loyal nature. Desiring and needing singular love, like finding one’s soulmate, do Bai Qian’s monogamous male kins’ qualities flow within her veins too? What if that deep-rooted attachment to only one lover, that characteristic, is inherent and in her genetic stock? If so, then harem life will prove to be taxing, if not unbearable.
Being someone whose role is to spread my seed and father as many offspring as possible, the concept of monogamy is impossible. My younger twin thinks one is enough. He vows to devote himself to one only body and soul. Ye Hua flirts with the attractive minister’s wives, but I believe he’s still a virgin. He hasn’t confirmed my suspicions, yet he hasn’t denied them either.
These days every time I think about the little princess entering my harem, I’m a bit torn. One part of me thinks I should marry her to my twin. In many ways, like fated lovers whose names are written in the destiny stone in Heaven, Bai Qian and Ye Hua would suit each other quite well with their virtuous habits.
What is this strange contrasting sensation? I’ve never felt so conflicted about anything. I want to break and save the little princess all at once. I wish to gift my brother with a woman worthy of his true nature, and only one woman is deserving of my beloved twin. It’s my future wife, Bai Qian.
As Ye Hua’s only wife, Bai Qian would enjoy all the privileges of being royalty, befitting the only female born in her family line. All the benefits without the constant exasperation of catty harem women all wanting to take over her place as the controller of the inner palace, my Empress. But the other, the darker, perhaps more wicked part of me—my breath hitches in my tightening chest—I want her for my selfish fleshly desires.
I don’t know why since I’ve never met her, but my fingers tremble and twitch when I think about touching her. How intensely my body aches for hers. My flaccid manhood turns into granite when I fantasize how it would feel with her tiny body squirming underneath me. Covered in my scent, and our sweaty bodies intertwined. My thick cock penetrating, repeatedly shattering, ripping away at her innocence until her entirety is overflowing with my seed. What a quandary.
Speaking aloud to myself, “Where are you, Ye Hua? Did you find her? And if so, what kind of person is she and what are we going to do with her?” Soundlessly, the 108 balls sandalwood and lapis lazuli prayer beads turn, steadily rolling one after the other in my hand as I scrutinize the leather map on the wall focusing on the known and obscure routes from Joseon to the Forbidden City.
Sarcasm lowers my pitch when I mumble bitterly, “You lucky bastard. I know you’ll be heartbroken to have missed Wan’er throwing her pompous father another banquet tonight; what I would do for a hot bowl of your congee instead of bird’s nest soup.”
Ye Hua is an exceptionally talented hunter and enjoys cooking his meals when traveling the far west and exotic places I can only dream of seeing. Wanderlust seduces him too often. Our annual hunts, southern tours, and pilgrimages to the royal tombs aren’t enough to satisfy his adventuresome appetite. As always, I pray to the Buddha for my didi, little YeYe’s safe travels. I miss him more than he’ll ever know.
“Commander Bai Zhen, please come inside,” I call out, setting out an extra teacup for my commander. Without Ye Hua around, starved am I for some decent company and conversation. I could have selected one of the younger Bai men as my protector, but I like Bai Zhen’s calm demeanor.
“Crown Prince, I, Bai Zhen, is present.” My commanding guard and his master swordsmanship remind me of a swift wind when he seemingly floats into my study instead of moving, silently appearing before me like an impromptu breeze, kneeling with his one knee, his elbows bent and folded. If his family were a greedy lot with their armies, this warrior would make for a perfect Emperor. He’s always so damn proper and flawless. I’ve looked up to him all my life.
“Brother Zhen’er,” I respond. The blush to his cheeks is immediate when I call him as I did as a child. “Aya, will you stop kneeling. Would you mind sitting comfortably and having some tea with me? It’s monkey picked white oolong from the Anxi province. I have a question. What would you like for your sister? What are your feelings about your Xiao Wu, Bai Qian’s future?”
“What are your feelings about your Xiao Wu, Bai Qian’s future?” Mo Yuan asks, and Commander Bai took a moment to gather his thoughts before carefully answering the Crown Prince’s question.
“Crown Prince, since you’ve called me brother, I’ll speak my mind. I wish both you and Ye Hua would stop obsessing over my sister and bugger off. If it weren’t for the children, I’d suggest she marry Bi Fang. Phoenix-Fox babies would be adorable.”
“There I was relaxing minding my own business in Qingqiu when our hot-headed nephew A-li raised bloody hell and questioned the elder’s motives. He challenged their honor, calling them bias to you, and your sacrificial soul-shattering to save everyone would have swaying power on the trials. Poor innocent me got cast into the human realm to act as the impartial guardian to all this nonsense and drama.”
With his Fox powers sealed against his will, High God Bai Zhen wanted to complain but instead wordlessly took a sip of his tea which was better than expected.
To be continued…