(Photo courtesy of Baidu, Hu Ge as Xu Long Hui, Liu Shi Shi as Yu Zhu)
So this chapter took me a month and a year to write. Massive apologies to my readers and again, thanks for your patience, hope you like it!
“This mirror shows the truth.” Wu Kang gestured to the giant glassy dome of the cave, “It touches all the realms, the human, god, demon, ghost. I will show you the truth.” Wu Kang waved his hand, the mist in the glass slowly began to transform until Yu Zhu recognized the people inside.
“Xu Long Hui.” She hadn’t seen his face in along time. Her handsome brother was gaunt, sickly, yet still regal in gold and silver robes.
“He has a year or two left.” Wu Kang said as he pointed to another picture. Yu Zhu felt her heart fall onto the ground, “Meanwhile the other one is measuring his own emperor robes.”
His hand waved again, and the glass glowed, Hong Yan Su’s face was somber but there was a glint of anticipation, in front of him forty or so officials knelt. He already had their allegiance.
Wu Kang’s hands began to glow with a grey light, he closed his eyes and moved his lips silently, suddenly the images in the mirror moved, blurred and Yu Zhu found herself watching a strange sight, she saw three children riding out of a burning palace.
“Yu Zhu, your brother used his life force and the demoness’s power to send you to the other realm.” Wu Kang said softly as Yu Zhu watched the scene before her, “Years ago, when the palace had been under attack, Xu Long Hui escaped with you and a girl named Hua Er.”
The mirror changed again it showed 3 children, Yu Zhu frowned, “This…is my past?”
She watched the young prince Xu Long Hui carry her in his arms as they galloped for their lives. On his back, a little girl in lilac rested. The girl’s back was covered in blood. Yu Zhu’s hands balled into fists, Hua Er, just a little girl, had an arrow sticking through her back. Their horse took them into a dark, dense forest, before it collapsed in exhaustion, it was dead by the time it hit the gound.
Xu Long Hui leapt of the horse, holding the other girls, he gritted his teeth and took the fall on himself, the girls held in his arms. He gently laided them on the ground before getting up and vomiting a mouthful of blood.
Behind him, Hua Er moaned. He knelt by the pale girl and checked her pulse, his eyes shone with worry as he held her wrist. “Hua Er, hold on. I’ll find help.” He whispered. She had used her own body as a shield to take an arrow that was aimed at Yu Zhu, she wasn’t allowed to die. He tied her to his back, and then tied the little princess to his chest.
Yu Zhu swallowed as she watched the scene, the exhausted little prince carrying two girls. He could have easily left her or Hua Er behind and escaped on his own, why did he care about them? She watched on, her lips pressed into a thin, white line.
In the green stone forest, he walked as fast as he could, occasionally feeding the baby Yu Zhu and whispering words of comfort to the feverish Hua Er. He could almost hear the soldiers behind them, looking to kill them. Eventually he found himself at the foot of a monsterous cliff, there was no way but up.
He tore a long sash from his robe and tied Hua Er and Yu Zhu tighter and began to climb the cliff face that didn’t seem to have any footholds. But the rock was shale, it broke like glass the moment he put his weight on his hand. In an instant, his hands were a bloody mess, the broken rocks digging into this hands. He ignored the smell of blood while climbing onwards, the red on the rocks marking his determination to get the people he carried to safety.
The soldiers below had caught up, they stopped and laughed as they saw the young boy climbing the cliff, they started d shooting at him for sport. An arrow flew by his arm, he ignored it, aiming for the ledge he saw ahead. The shards of broken rocks were now sinking into the bones of his hands, soon he wouldn’t have a bit of flesh left, he needed to get them to safety before that happened.
The soldiers stopped shooting for sport once they realized that the young prince had martial arts that far exceeded their expectations. They need him to die now. An arrow flew true and struck Hua Er in the back, the soft cry from her mouth cut Xu Long Hui deeper than the rocks that sank hooks into hands.
Yu Zhu the little child, woke up and found herself to be hanging in midair, started crying. Xu Long Hui gritted his teeth, and sank his hand into the glass-like rock. Even if his flesh was going to be sheared off to the bone, he would get them to the top.
Suddenly, before the soldiers on the ground could react, a fire burned in front of their eyes, they didn’t even have time to scream when they became ash.
A strong gust of wind blew at Xu Long Hui, he gripped the rock with all his might but the wind tore at him like a tornado. Xu Long Hui, Hua Er, and Yu Zhu, all were carried by the strong wind from the cliff face. Xu Long Hui, in the air, quickly shifted Hua Er to his chest, if they were going to fall, he would not allow her to fall first. He closed his eyes for impact but nothing came.
The adult Yu Zhu watched, amazed as Grandfather and Tu Suo, the people who she called family for the years she lived in the demon realm, seemed to appear out of nowhere. They killed the guards and brought the children to safety at the top of the cliff. Tu Suo turned to Grandfather, “We could take her, raise her in the demon world.”
Grandfather shook his head, “We’re too early, if we take her now, she would not survive the travel. Her body is still human and her soul not yet melded with her body, without 10 years in the human realms the demon magic will kill her.”
Tu Suo frowned a little, Grandfather comforted him, “We’ve found her, that’s what matters. One day, she will come to us.”
When Xu Long Hui opened his eyes, two people stood in front of him. A very old man and a younger man stood in front of him. They looked at the three of them curiously, Xu Long Hui saw their eyes staring at his sleeping sister and he frowned, picking up his sister in an instant and shielding her with his arms.
He nodded to them regally, his face already composed, “Thank you for saving us.” He turned his attention to Hua Er, her face had gone from flushed pink to ghostly white. He quickly felt for her pulse, it was so weak.
“She may only last another hour. The arrow was covered in poison.” A voice, full of age and wisdom range behind him, “You should let her go peacefully.”
Xu Long Hui frowned, his eyes flashed and suddenly he knelt in front of the two people, “I don’t know who you are, but from what just happened, I know that you have abilities that far exceed a normal person. Please, save her.”
The young man walked up to the young man and raised him up, “We are not gods or deities. There isn’t much we can do for your friend. Her wounds have no cure.”
The words slammed into Xu Long Hui’s brain, but the meaning seemed to be lost on him. He looked at the two fiercely, “You just raised us off a cliff with wind. You have a way.”
The old man sighed, “Tu Suo is right, there is no cure.” The old man’s eyes seemed troubled as he continued, “However, just because there isn’t a cure, doesn’t mean that there is no way to save her life.”
Xu Long Hui’s eyes lit up in excitement, “What? Tell me!” Tu Suo looked at Grandfather, he didn’t like where this was going, but Grandfather continued, “There is a spirit that can take the poison out of her body, but to use it, there are consequences.”
Xu Long Hui looked at Hua Er, “Tell me.”
The two men looked at each other, this little boy was fearless. “There is a type of demon that can use their spiritual magic to take the poison out of her body and heal her. But it must be done of their own free will.”
Tu Suo sighed, “But by doing so the demon would be destroying their own body in the process, no one would do it willingly.”
Xu long Hui was unfazed, “Is there anything I can offer that can change this demon’s mind? You wouldn’t tell me about the demon if you weren’t sure that I could save her”. Hua Er took an arrow for him on the cliff, he wouldn’t let her die because of him.
There was a conflicted expression as Grandfather explained,”I have such a demon in my possession. She was once a powerful queen of her tribe.”
An expression of hope flashed across Xu Long Hui’s face, “Then what are you waiting for?”
Tu Suo held up a hand, “If you want her to save your friend, another body would have to be offered for her to live in. Our powers will kill her instantly if she tried to enter our bodies. It would have to be a human one.” Tu Suo’s eyes strayed to Yu Zhu’s sleeping figure as he said hesitantly, “It would have to be between the three of you.”
Xu Long Hui felt the blood drain from his face. There was no way he would allow Hua Er to carry a demoness within herself. Yu Zhu was his sister and over his dead body would he allow something like that to happen to her. If he wanted to save Hua Er, he would shoulder the consequences.
His head was raised defiantly, “I am willing, let the demoness live in me.”
Tu Suo nodded, “You must understand, once inside your body, her wounds will heal and she will become strong and at the right time, she’ll try to make you free her. Torture you. Make your life living hell. Make you think that she is your master. She will make you think everyone you loved is dead, give you hope to love and then take it away in an instant, all for the hope that you would free her.” He gazed at the young boy as if they were equals, talking to him as if he was an adult, “If you free her, the her bond with the little girl will be broken, and your friend will die from the poison instantly.”
Xu Long Hui only had an iron like determination as he said, “If I die without freeing her? Hua Er would live?”
“Then she’ll be forever locked away in your body, your death would be her death.” Grandfather answered, “But the burden you must take, it will weaken you, I am not sure you will be able to live past your thirties.”
Xu Long Hui shrugged, for a child, his thirties seems as far away as eternity. He was a stubborn one, once he had chose the path, nothing would stop him from walking it to the end, “Tell me what to do.”
The old man sighed, a light appeared in his hand, it grew until it slammed unto the ground. A woman appeared, she was as beautiful as the moon, her silk black hair pooled around a thin face. But her eyes were two empty black holes and there were bloody stumps where her legs were.
“Old man, once I recover I’m going to eat your skin and drink your blood!” She hissed with enough anger to burn an entire city, her beautiful face full of ugly hatred.
“You are dying. If you use your power to save this child, I will allow you to live.”
The demoness laughed, it was a high and cruel sound, “Live? She’s at death’s door. If I save her, give her my energy, my body would shatter and I would disappear instantaneously.”
“No. I’ll let you live in my body.” Xu Long Hui faced the demoness, “Save my friend. And I’ll keep you alive.”
The demoness looked at the little boy and laughed, it was a sound that could shatter glass.
“If you refuse, you die today.” Grandfather said calmly.
Her laughter instantly disappeared as she looked at the little girl for a long time. Her souless eyes turned hungrily to Xu Long Hui. Though his heart was pounding, there was no expression on his face and he stared back at her.
Finally the demoness glared at the old man, “One day I will break free of this little boy and that is your last day on earth.” Without another word, she bit into her hand, and drew out a golden string. The string enveloped Hua Er, the little girl gasped and the blood dissapeared. The pale deathly palor was replaced by the a healthy pink, Xu Long Hui felt as if someone had been holding his heart out of his body ever since Hua Er had been injured. Seeing her breathing normally, his heart returned to his chest.
The old man took Xu Long Hui aside, “I will tell you the incantation that will lock her in your body, should you utter these words out loud in the future, they will also be the words that free the demoness.” Xu Long Hui memorized the spell and grandfather made a cut on his had, Xu Long Hui screamed the words and the demoness, her entire body and hair whiter than snow, flew into the cut.
Xu Long Hui’s eyes rolled backwards into his head and he fell to the ground. Tu Suo caught him and gently laid him down. He began to shake uncontrollably, Grandfather’s hands shot out and black manacles clasped onto Xu Long Hui’s wrists. White power shone and finally, the boy calmed down.
“Tu Suo, take the two girls and send them to a safe place. The Dian Emperor is returning with his troops to the palace. Protect them until the palace is safe again.”
Grandfather lifted his hands, Xu Long Hui’s sleeping body floated up with him. Tu Suo nodded, “He’s going with us?”
The old man sighed, “He needs to trust us completely, one day he will bring the child to us. At least until that day I can help him keep the demoness under control.”
Yu Zhu cried as she watched everything in the world mirror. She saw her brother screaming in pain as the demoness ate at him from the inside out. She saw the demoness give him nightmares and hallucinations. She saw how every night the demoness made him watch and rewatch his loved ones die in a thousand different ways until he didn’t have the strength to care.
Yet through it all, Xu Long Hui never spoke the spell. He would bite his lips until they bleed. He practiced magics and ate medicine to weaken the demoness. He made himself forget the words to the spell, so that even if she did her worst, Xu Long Hui never uttered a single syllable of the incantation.
Afraid that he would say the words when he slept, Xu Long Hui bound his mouth with thick cloth every night he fell asleep, every morning when he woke up, the cloth would be stained with blood.
When Xu Long Hui had learned the danger that she, Yu Zhu, was in. He made plans. He knew that he wouldn’t live long enough to protect her from the Hong family. He knew his father was dying. So he asked for grandfather’s help to bring her to the demon realms.
Yu Zhu felt as if her heart, which she had been protecting so carefully all these years, was burning in anger. She had locked her heart by remembering all the painful things that Hua Er and said, but now, watching all of this happen before her, those memories were like tinder, searing her soul until she vowed revenge on everyone who had used her brother, hurt their family, brought all of this upon the people she loved.
But who did she hate? Who had caused her all of this pain? Was it Hong Yan Su, the young man she had loved and wanted to marry when she was little? Her heart felt as if some one was slicing it off, piece by piece.
She would destroy the entire Hong family, it was their greed that killed her mother, destroyed her father, and now, threatened the life of her brother. She would do anything to save Xu Long Hui, just like how he was trying to protect her and Hua Er.
Someone was squeezing her heart, trying to squeeze until it shattered, her entire body shook. The fire burn through her body trying to consume her.
Yu Zhu watched the years go by, while she lived peacefully in the demon realms, he was shouldering the entirety of a nation while enduring the demoness that grew stronger and stronger.
His only act of selfishness, was to keep Hua Er at his side for as long as he could. He wasn’t without emotions as the demoness had thought. Because in the deepest, darkest part of his heart was a tiny light, locked inside was his Hua Er. He didn’t dare love Hua Er, not with his all because he knew that if he wanted her to live on, the the demoness could not be free from his body. He had to die.
And yet he had promised his mother to look after Yu Zhu. He had promised his father to look after Dian. He couldn’t end it selfishly, he had to keep the Hong family at bay as long as he could. They were the people who killed his mother, the reason why his father died of a broken heart, they had caused his sister to leave the country. As long as there was a breath left in his body, they would not take the throne.
The visions in the mirror blurred and vanished. Wu Kang swayed where he stood, his face whiter than paper. The Mirror can only be opened by gods, but Wu Kang’s existence was so singularly strange that his powers now could equal a mid level god. But even he would be exhausted to the bone after such a long time.
Yu Zhu looked at him, there were no tears on her face. Wu Kang looked at his daughter, “Do you hate me for showing you all of this? I wanted you to know the truth, so that your road will be clear.”
There was no anger on her face. There was no hatred. In her eyes he could see no emotion. Yu Zhu’s eyes met his and Wu Kang felt his heart grow cold. This was the face of a goddess, cold, remote, immovable. It was beautiful and chilling at the same time, there was only regal indifference and power in her gaze. Yu Zhu was cloaked in an aura of matchless power, the power of a queen.
She looked at him, “Who are you to do anything for me?” The wasn’t a sliver of emotion in her voice. Her eyes seemed to stare through him, “You are just a ghost who can not forget the past. You and Mei Yan destroyed the world with your so called devotion to each other, leaving others to clean up your mess. Now you want to take care of me?”
There was a slight, scornful smile on her lips, “Ever since Wei Yun showed me your story, I vowed that I would never fall in love, never give my heart away. Because the people who called themselves my family caused so much chaos that even today people are suffering. I would never be so stupid. You have no right to show me any truths, to give me orders, or tell me what my road is.”
Wu Kang never thought his daughter would be so cold, so ruthlessly blunt. He had caught glimpses of her over the years, he had never talked to her. In his memory he had seen a smiling, happy child, nothing like the cold, proud person he saw today.
Wu Kang swallowed, every word out of her mouth was true, it struck through him with the force of a javelin, “Insult me all you like, but your mother died protecting you. When her soul shattered, a piece flew to and protected you. It’s the reason why even without Pan Gu’s heart, you are still so well hid, even from Wei Yun.” In truth Wu kang had pieced together Mei Yan’s soul in ten thousand years, but he didn’t want to take away Yu Zhu’s protection, so he chose to wait hundreds of thousands of years for his daughter to grow up, until she became so powerful that she didn’t need Mei Yan’s protection.
“Take me home.” Yu Zhu ordered, her shaking hands were balled into fists beneath her robes, “You said you know the way. Once there, you can have the piece of soul and we will never see each other again.”
Wu Kang’s smile was slightly bitter, “It’s not so simple. Yu Zhu, your life had been written in the shadow of the stars. Don’t you want to know why Gods and Demons fight to protect and destroy you?”
“Gods and Demons are none of my business.” Yu Zhu said coldly, all she wanted to do was go home, to save her brother. Afterwards she would find Wei Yun, where ever he was, whatever he was doing, she would apologize for all the pain these people had caused him. Her heart wavered slightly when she though of his image.
“Even if you go home now, you will still be powerless. You will be fighting Hong Yan Su, a many who everyone bows to as the future of a nation. How powerful will you be against hundreds of thousands of soldiers?” Wu Kang told her, “If you only want revenge, then go home. But if you want to save Xu Long Hui, then come with me” He had guessed her heart, he knew that this was his only chance.
“It will take another year for you to become a goddess, and even if you do, you would start as a low level goddess with very limited powers. It takes thousands of years to access all of your mother’s powers. But the Emperor of Heaven would have found you by then, and you would die without helping anyone.” He looked at her calmly, ” For your mother’s sake I would never let that happen.”
“What do you want. Spit. It. Out.” Yu Zhu spat through her teeth, her face was still calm, but there was a dangerous glint in her eyes, “Are you not taking me back?”
“I was asked by someone to show you this, she had predicted that you would come here, and asked me to show you everything.” Wu kang told her candidly, “If you go visit her, she will help you.” Yu Zhu looked him with narrowed eyes, “You’re not giving me a choice.”
“You can either go back and die without causing even a ripple, or come with me. There is someone who has a way for you to become stronger.” Wu Kang said simply.
Yu Zhu looked at the mirror, in it she could see a few figures kneeling by a pyre. On it a body of a young woman laid there was if asleep, it was Yu Zhu’s body. Before it was Lin Yu, her face was pinched and white, tears fell like rain on her beautiful face.
Behind her was Hua Er, her face was equally white, she tried to walk forward but Lin Yu leapt up and unsheathed her sword, her face wild with anger. She screamed something at Hua Er, and it caused the already pale Hua Er to turn even a more deathly white. Doctor Li pulled Hua Er back with all his might, Hua er didn’t seem to care that there was a sword aimed at her chest and kept trying to walk forward, trying to kneel to her beloved princess. Beside her, Zhuo Hao grabbed Lin Yu and pulled her away, hold her shaking arms and encircling her in his chest.
Another figure came forward and grabbed the near hysterical Hua Er, Yu Zhu’s eyes widened, “Shan Ying Lang.” She breathed, she hadn’t seen him since they were little. He gave doctor Li a look and his had flashed, Hua Er’s body crumpled as she fainted, Shan Ying Lang held Hua Er and they swiftly left.
Zhu Zhan Ye knelt through it all, as if he didn’t hear any disturbance. He looked at the funeral pyre with deep look of concentration, his slender hand held to his heart. He frowned slightly as if deep in thought. He looked as if he was confused about something, there was a look of slight disbelief on his face as he looked at the roaring fire. Yu Zhu’s eyes looked at Lin Yu’s crumpled figure again, in the arms of Zhuo Hao, her face a mask of grief.
For them all, she would have to get stronger. She would be unable to protect any of them in the state she was in now. Yu Zhu nodded, “Fine. Then tell me who you want me to go see.”
Wu Kang nodded, in his hands was a glowing crystal, he crushed the rock in his hand and it began to glow.
A streak of white began to flow out of the mirror, until it mixed with the crushed crystal, The white streak widened until it was big enough to let a person through.
A figure stood inside the streak, Yu Zhu looked at the figure.
It was a girl, her skin was smooth white jade, her eyes two deep inky pools. There was something so familiar about that face. The stranger wore robes of light jade green and held out a hand.
“I am the Jade Rabbit, come with me.” She smiled at Yu Zhu. Yu Zhu knew where she had seen the girl, Wei Yun had shown her the past and this girl was the Jade Rabbit that had been Mei Yun’s best friend.
Wu Kang nodded, “She will guide us.”
Yu Zhu walked forward and grasped the hand. In an instant the white light flashed and disappeared, the cave was empty once again.