Chapter 36 – The Dangerous Game

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 12.57.23 AM  Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 1.22.24 AM

(Zhu Zhan Ye)                                             (Zhuo Hao)

 

(Pictures Courtesy of Sina Weibo and Ibukisatsuki, also thanks Suteki Da Ne for the blog post about my novel and the idea of putting up paintings!)

Thanks for the patience everyone! This is the newest chapter. Please enjoy!

Yue Kingdom

In the setting sun, Yu Zhu’s scarves soaked the red gold rays, their pale shimmering colors reflecting and dancing in the dying light. Yu Zhu looked on impassively as the young man sighed, “Beautiful. Even better than the ones in the capitol” His expressive eyes seemed to probing her, ” Your skills are astounding for one so young. Here is what I owe you for the wager.” The crowd that had gathered to watch the young embroidery mistress handily beat the handsome young stranger in a wager, murmured their agreement

Yu Zhu plucked small bag of coins from the man’s hand, “I accept your apology.” Zhu Zhan Ye captured her hand, there was amusement in his eyes and a faint smile on his lips, “Perhaps it’s not too late to be friends?” Yu Zhu was surprised but maintained her coolness, “Perhaps.” And she tugged her hand away, her face felt a little hot but she was in control.

“I guess we can’t steal from him. She doesn’t seem to dislike him” Lin Yu looked disappointed as she and Zhuo Hao peered at the two in front of Yu Zhu’s shop. They stood at the back of the crowd, she was happily eating candy that Zhuo Hao held out for her.

“Your sister is exceptional” Zhuo Hao remarked, “She’s too wise to show her true emotions.” He looked at Yu Zhu wistfully, “Too bad she wasn’t born a man. Maybe if she was, she could have become a great warrior, even a legendary general.”

“What about me?” Lin Yu wanted to know. Zhuo Hao smiled sheepishly, “You’re all heart, you would probably make a terrible general.”

Lin Yu shoved Zhuo Hao playfully, “I do what I feel is right.”

“Like the time you threw me off a bridge because you thought I was a bandit?” It was the first time they had met.

“How was I suppose to know that the bandits were holding you hostage?” Lin Yu grumbled as Zhuo Hao broke sesame brittle into bits for her. He smiled as he handed it to her, “I was tied. I nearly drowned.”

Lin Yu rolled her eyes at him. “You’re still here aren’t you?”

Zhuo Hao chuckled, “Yes. That is something.” He mused softly, “Back when I had nothing.”

Zhan Ye bowed to the beautiful shopkeeper and motioned for his guard to follow him. Yu Zhu watched them leave, Zhu Zhan Ye’s hawkish eyes made her wary

Zhan Ye turned around towards Lin Yu and Zhuo Hao to leave,  Zhuo Hao turned away at the same moment, seemingly absorbed in the activities of the street, hiding his face from the other man. Lin Yu didn’t notice.

Yu Zhu motioned for them to come into her shop, “It’s almost time to close. Give me a moment and we’ll walk back home.”

“What did you think of that upstart rich boy?” Lin Yu wanted to know as they started down the road. Zhuo Hao took out some of the food Yu Zhu had ordered them to get and handed it to the girls.

“He’s well-bred, too well-bred to be an ordinary magistrate’s dog.” Yu Zhu picked out a mantou bun as she walked, “From his clothes, it’s clear that he’s well-off. Everything was made to look ordinary, but he’s got more knives hidden on him than you or I.”  Yu Zhu rubbed her ear, “His accent and speech sounds too cultivated, more so than your average rich merchant. And his mannerisms.”

Lin Yu tilted her head, “what about it?”

Yu Zhu seemed to not hear her, she was remembering all the lessons of the palace, all those long years ago. It seemed like her past encased in silk, waiting for her to unwrap it, to face it. She locked it away again. “He’s good at hiding most of it, but it’s clear he comes from a very privileged upbringing.”

Lin Yu frowned, “So who is he?”

Yu Zhu shrugged, “A duke or an imperial captain, at least.”

The road became slightly distorted she blinked back the un-shed tears, she could not shake the image of her home from her mind’s eye, she sighed “Looks like we’ve caught the emperor’s attention.”  Zhuo Hao looked at the two girls carefully, normally, when an ordinary peasant discussed the Emperor, they would do so respectfully or fearfully but these girls showed no outward emotions of hysteria or panic at the thought of the most powerful man in the empire coming after them.

“If you wish to stop all activities, I won’t blame you.” Zhuo Hao said quietly, “In fact, I would prefer it.”  For a moment both girls looked stunned, then Lin Yu laughed, “Zhuo Hao, I never took you for a cowardly mouse!”

Zhuo Hao shook his head, “The Emperor is ruthlessness. He had his eldest son, the crown prince killed, because a priest had a dream that that the next Emperor would overshadow the greatness of his father. The Eldest prince of today hasn’t been crowned as the the next heir. In fact no one know who he will name to the throne. If he can kill his children without remorse, you’re flies to him.”

Yu Zhu rested her head on her hand, “I have no fear of ruthless men.” She smiled, “Have you seen Lin Yu? Do you think for a moment that she could be captured?” Yu Zhu stared at Zhuo Hao a little longer, and said carefully as well, “I have plans for tonight. There’s a merchant I’ve been meaning to steal from for days.”

“It’s too risky.” Zhuo Hao began.

Yu Zhu shook her head “Zhu Zhan Ye might catch on, but right now, he’s just arrived and he doesn’t suspect me. This might be the last chance I get before he starts putting men to watch our house.”

Her eyes turned serious as she looked Zhuo Hao, “But I think you need to stop seeing us so often.” She sighed, “Should Zhu Zhan Ye decide to look into you, he might uncover your underground network, and how we funnel money to the poor. You need to take extra precautions.”

Zhuo Hao wanted to argue but Yu Zhu cut him off, “Even if you stay away from our house, we can still get the money to you. But you need to be careful, you are as much the Midnight Thief as we are.”

Lin Yu gasped at Yu Zhu, “But why? I thought you handled him already today.”

Yu Zhu sighed, “The moment he became courteous to me, I realized his true purpose.”

“What do you mean?” Lin Yu asked

Yu Zhu seemed to be a little angry with herself, “He was testing me. Not many ordinary girls can rise up to his challenge. And you and I are so odd already. Two girls who live their lives freely and without a man in our household. We stand out too much, especially to someone who was trained to suspect the unusual. If I failed, he would’ve ruined my business, but now that I won, he’s even more wary.”

Yu Zhu halted, she saw two men standing outside their house. Lin Yu stopped too, “Are you expecting anyone?” Yu Zhu shook her head, “No. Were you?” Both girls felt for the daggers in their sleeves. They couldn’t quite make out the two in the oncoming darknesss, but Zhuo Hao took a few steps backwards, Yu Zhu looked at the Zhu Hao for a moment and at the two figures in the distance.

He cursed underneath his breathe,”Speak of the devil, I’ll take my leave now.” Without another word, he turned around and walked away. Yu Zhu and Lin Yu slowly approached their house.

Zhu Zhan Ye waved, a smile on his lips, he bowed graciously and called out, “I was hoping to speak to Yu Zhu again.”  His servant held a basket of gifts and bowed also.

“Master Zhu, I thought our association ended today.” She was coolly polite as they faced each other.

“I came back because I wanted to apologize for my behavior. I’ve only arrived at this town a few days ago, and none of my friends were here to reign in my temper. Luckily, a very nice lady who sells buns told me where you lived” Yu Zhu blinked in surprise but quickly recovered, “Of course. I’ve already accepted your apology.”

They led the two men to the small courtyard underneath a small oak.  Bao Lu gently set the gifts on plain table with the muted flourish of a well-trained servant as Zhan Ye said, “With this I hope we can become friends. Behind the courteous Yu Zhu, Lin Yu rolled her eyes. Yu Zhu, knowing how Lin Yu would react, gently elbowed her sister, “Nothing would please me more.”

Zhu Zhan Ye ignored Lin Yu’s antics, “Now, as a friend I was hoping you can help me with something.” He smiled amicably, ” I’m a simple bounty hunter, and I’m looking to catch the Midnight Thief, I was wondering if I may come to you for information.” Lin Yu couldn’t help herself and snorted, “We’re just two girls trying to make it in this town, what would we know about anything?”

Zhan Ye shook his head, “You’re one of the top dancers in the city, perhaps the empire. Men call you the temperamental Goddess, and worship at you feet. You could have any secret you want if you so much as smiled at a man” Lin Yu rolled her eyes. Zhan Ye gestured to Yu Zhu, “And Mistress Yu Zhu’s embroidery shop caters to only the very wealthy in this town, her work is equally of renown. With your access to all kinds of people, I’m sure that you both can provide valuable information.”

He placed a gold bar on the table, “of course, I will reward you handsomely.”

Yu Zhu knew it wasn’t the right time to fight this man, she merely smiled, “We’ve only been in the city for a few months, and can hardly tell you anything you wouldn’t have already heard. But we’ll keep an ear open for you.” She took the gold and offered it back to the man, “It’s late, perhaps you’ll visit my shop sometime.”

Zhu Zhan Ye heard the dismissal in her voice. He smiled and waved her had away, ” The gold is for you to keep. And I look forward to visiting you in the future.”

As soon as they left Lin Yu spun around, “Why are we helping him?”

“Because we need to keep our enemies close.” Yu Zhu mused as she gently threw the gold onto the table, “Let the games begin.”

—–

“Brother” A voice called out from the shadows, Zhu Zhan Ye whiped around. Zhuo Hao walked out from underneath a willow. Zhan Ye smiled and quickly walked over “I didn’t know they let you out. What are you doing here?”

Zhuo Hao smiled and clapped his brother on the shoulder, “I’m just asking for alms for the monastery.” His tone was still light as he said, “I heard you’ve been bothering the townspeople for information on the Midnight Thief. Just come to me from now on, there’s no need for a prince of the empire such as yourself to do so much leg work.”

Zhan Ye’s brows furrowed at his brother’s strange words, “You always tell the opposite. Besides I’m doing my job, as ordered by our father.”

“Your father.” The friendliness in his voice and eyes was gone as Zhuo Hao said coldly, “I was disowned the day I was banished.”

Zhan Ye became cold as the man standing before him, “Deny it all you want, but you are royal blood. You may have given up on throne but that doesn’t make you any less my brother.” Zhan Ye’s chin stuck out, “As a royal prince, it is my duty to seek out threats against the nation, I’m doing what is required of me, not hiding in a monastery.”

“But you of all people should be home, resting to heal your battle wounds. Not out chasing some thief.” Zhuo Hao felt his frustration rise as he looked at his younger brother, “He’s goaded you into doing this just to see how fast you will die, your wounds are serious and your opponent deadly.”

Zhan Ye laughed without humor, “Don’t you think I know this was a suicide mission? But unlike you, I have no choice.” He looked at his brother sadly, “You mother is dead, and mine is still trapped like a bird in that imperial cage. I have to do what he commands.”

Zhou Hao could say nothing, the guilt that he had felt all those years for leaving Zhan Ye came flooding back. The silence was settled between them like a icy fog.

“Failure to capture the Midnight Thief means death for my mother.” Zhan Ye’s mouth lifted in a sardonic grin,”Such is the price for being a son of an imperial house.”

Zhuo Hao’s eyes went cold as he said impatiently, “But I can help. Let me do the work.”

Zhan Ye had grown up with Zhuo Hao, idolized this brother all his life. But his instincts right now told him that Zhuo Hao was keeping something from him.

“No” Zhan Ye said resolutely, “And if you get in my way, I have the full power of the Empire behind me.” With that he walked away.

“Keep him safe. Come to me if he finds out too much.” Zhuo Hao whispered to Bao Lu. Bao Lu nodded and ran to catch up with his master. Zhuo Hao sighed and walked in the opposite direction.

—————

The Dian Kingdom

“Your Majesty, the Princess Hua Er begs your audience. She’s been waiting all day and night” A Enunch trembled in front of Xu Long Hui. The emperor did not glance up from his scrolls, “Are the wedding dowry preparations going well?”

“Yes your Imperial majesty, We’ve sent ten thousand taels of gold, silver, and silk to the Emperor of Yue, he has sent back the signed agreement of marriage.”

“Good.” Xu Long Hui replied, his fingers were white as he gripped his brush, “Bring it and I will sign it.”

“But shouldn’t the bride…” The Eunuch’s voice disappeared as Xu Long Hui said, “ No, she wouldn’t sign it even if I begged.”

There was a yell outside the door, Hua Er had a dagger in her hand and fire in her eyes as she gripped the captain of the royal guards by the collar, her blade at his neck. Circling her were the royal guard, who couldn’t harm their captain or capture the next bride and future queen of the kingdom of Yue. The Eunuch yelped and scampered out of her way. She glared at Xu Long Hui, her eyes full of frustration.

“Let him go Hua Er, you’ve made your point.”

Xue Long Hui waved to his guards, “Leave us.” The soldiers hesitated, a crease appeared between Xu Long Hui’s eyebrows, “Are you all deaf? Leave.”

Hua Er released the captain, who, after a moment, bowed to her with a slight grin. He signaled for his men to follow him.

“I’m not going” Hua Er asked after a moment, “Choose another to send off tomorrow.”

Xu Long Hui looked at her, “You are the highest ranking princess, and my word is law.” His eyes seemed to hold a thousand unspoken words, things that he’s kept from his heart. Hua Er shook her head, “This isn’t the way.”

Xu Long Hui’s voice was cold and logical, “Once you cross the border, you will be safe and protected.” Hua Er’s eyes overflowed. “Do you really think that’s what I want? Do you think that’s why I’ve stayed here all these years?”

Xu Long Hui couldn’t help it, there was desperation in his voice “if I leave this world, let me at least know that you will have a long and happy life.”

Hua Er slowly walked to him. “I didn’t leave when Old Emperor died, because you are here. As long as I am near you, my life is happy.”

She was so close that Xu Long Hui could see the truth in her eyes, “Please. Don’t send me to Yue.”

The conflict raged, but Xue Long Hui was adamant, “The marraige agreement is written and it’s your name on it, to send another now would be an insult to the Yue.” He said as he clenched his hands, “You deserve a better man. A better life”

“I do deserve a better man.” Hua Er said with remarkable stuborness, “So start acting like one.”

Xu Long Hui looked a moment longer, he could feel the demoness stirring in his heart, “Be happy.” With that he gently blew sleeping powder in her face, it would keep her asleep until tomorrow, traveling to the border of Yue.

A servant girl appeared and caught Hua Er as she fell. Xu Long Hui looked at her sadly as she was carried away.

“She gets cold easily and loves jade pear tea. Make sure that she gets only the best foods on the road, no expenses spared.” Xu Long Hui told the captain, as the man once again entered the throne room. He glared at the captain of the guards, “Shan Ying Lang, you bastard. I told you to keep her away.”

Ying Lang shrugged, “I thought that you two deserved a chance to talk. But that wasn’t going to be possible in the polite way, since you were being an ass about the whole thing.”

Xu Long Hui sighed, “I am your emperor, you can at least pretend to have some manners.”

“And I am one of the last true friends you have.” Was the casual reply, “Don’t squander my good will.”

Xu Long Hui looked towards the Pavilion where Hua Er slept, “Keep her safe, don’t leave her side from tomorrow on.”

Shan Ying Lang bowed his head, “I will protect her with my life. It’s you I’m worried about.”

Xu Long Hui smiled, “I won’t matter in a year or two. I have done my duty and protected this country from the claws of the Hongs for as long as I could, but I have been unfruitful in diminishing their power. And soon I will leave this world without an heir. I have failed to protect everything my father worked for, so I ask you to keep the one person I value safe.”

He turned to his friend, “They say that the Emperor is the most powerful man in the world, a wave of his hand can cause the death of thousands.” He laughed bitterly, “But I can’t even grant happiness to one.”

—–

The Demon Realms

“QUIET!” A powerful man barked to a room full of demons cheiftains and their advisors, he turned and bowed to the woman wrapped in red fur on the dais, “Your majesty.” He turned and sat in his chair, his old clan elders stood silently behind him.

The Tiger Queen waited until all the other houses calmed down before saying, “Honored guests, I did not call the Zodiac in order for us to fight. It’s time to put old grievences asides, we have a deadlier  problem.”

The Rat Chieftain stood, his shifty eyes zooming from the face of one chieftain to another, “What do you suggest we do, Majesty? The Empire of the Ox has fallen, the snakes, horses, and sheep warriors bow under the Rabbit. And they have a powerful demon god on their side. Is it not time to bend down and surrender?”

The Tiger Queen’s voice held thinly veiled contempt, “You have always been the shrewdest of us all. Anyone else?” the others murmured until a young man stood up, he was reed thin with golden eyes and flame red hair, “Bow down to a man who kills children? The house of the Ox is entirely decimated, they wouldn’t even let a child live. If we surrender, he would cut our heads off the moment our knees touched the ground.”

“Well said, Young Rooster.” A few chieftains nodded. A young woman stood up, she was as beautiful as the tigress queen, “I think we should let the Emperor of Heaven know. For some reason, they haven’t sensed the upheaval from all these years. He is the head of the dragon house, he can hardly ignore the rest of us.”

The room went silent. The Tiger Queen smiled in approval, “The young Monkey Chieftain seems to have the same idea as me.”

She stood up, “This isn’t a little skirmish between the houses. This is annihilation. Our enemies have been quick to kill all our messengers to the heavens. I suspect that they don’t even know Wei Yun is rampaging the demon world. Something is magically blocking the Demon Realm from communicating with the God Realm”

“What does your majesty propose?” The man who sat closest to her asked, the one who had quieted the crowd, he was the Wolf Chieftain, leader of the Dog Clan. The Tiger Queen knew what she asked would be enormous, “I need you to gather any demons who can travel between the realms. They need to find a way to the human realms and from there, find a way to the Heaven Realms to tell them what’s going on.”

“But that’s suicide.” The Rat Chieftain whined, “Only royal blooded chieftains are allowed to travel to other realms, and even then, who would risk their position? The humans have priests and monks who would capture any demon for our power, and we’d become weak, our magic diminished.” The others muttered, seeing that he had backers, the Rat Chieftan felt more bold, “Besides that Wei Yun would sense us as we get close to the border. It would be suicide.”

“And death to us all if we don’t” the Wolf Chieftain said, he smiled grimly, “I will go.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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23 thoughts on “Chapter 36 – The Dangerous Game

  1. sutekii1 June 22, 2014 at 2:24 am Reply

    “I do deserve a better man.” Hua Er said with remarkable stuborness, “So start acting like one.” – that’s eight Long Hui!

    I actually liked a lot of phrases in this chapter but I won’t be copying pasting them all here.

    Thanks for the chapter ❤

    • dramatictealeaves June 22, 2014 at 2:28 am Reply

      Aww thanks for reading! I’ve been working on this chapter for a while because its one of those that sets a stage for a bunch of things (i.e. The demon realms war, Hua Er’s wedding, Yu Zhu’s role as the Midnight thief, my main concern was that I didn’t want it to drag too much)

      • sutekii1 June 22, 2014 at 2:32 am

        So far so good, not draggy at all. Each section is just enough without being too long and loosing my attention.

        I actually like little doses at a time, because that way I don’t miss out on important things and have time to think about the development.

  2. han2fin June 22, 2014 at 3:31 am Reply

    you make good novel 🙂 i will looking forward for the next chapter:)

  3. Julianne Lin June 22, 2014 at 6:03 am Reply

    I absolutely love this novel, but honestly I don’t particularly like Hua er and Long Hui…it’s not really that I don’t like the characters…I do; I love Long Hui. It’s just that I hate the fact that Long Hui loves Hua Er and to him she’s “the only person [he] values”…It’s like he doesn’t ever think about or care to think about his own sister. To him, she’st just a reminder of his duty and promise. He has zero feelings towards her. i think he even likes ying Lang as a friend more than he likes Yu Zhu. It’s probably not his fault…I just hate the situation. It’s just that I’m really close to my sister and I’m easily jealous of other people who take her attention away. I just can’t imagine such an estranged relationship (or non relationship) with my sibling.

    • dramatictealeaves June 22, 2014 at 11:00 am Reply

      I know! Xu Long Hui made me mad for a while because of his cold indifference to his sister. But as I wrote more and more about him, I realized that he wouldn’t really have known who she was. He grew up in the confines of the palace, taught by teachers and probably saw Yu Zhu once or twice before the siege. Since he was young, Hua Er has been the only constant in his life, so his bond with her is deep, so deep that I think the Demoness is afraid of Hua Er.

      I’m really close to my sister as well, but I also know friends who have very cool relationships with their siblings and in some ways this is a manifestation of that. Yu Zhu is definitely affected by how Xu Long Hui treated her, and it shows in how she keeps an arms length from most people. She can’t with Lin Yu though, they’re basically sisters, even if Yu Zhu refuses to talk about her past with anyone.

      Thank you for your honesty! It makes total sense to me as well and this is really great critique!

  4. xtheran June 22, 2014 at 7:45 am Reply

    Thanks a lot .I have been checking your site every day for your update. And I am captivated in it. I look forward to it

    • dramatictealeaves June 22, 2014 at 11:01 am Reply

      Thank you for reading! I’m so sorry for being such a slow update, and I promise I’m going to try to update more this month!

  5. samie June 22, 2014 at 8:37 am Reply

    Exciting! Who is the real male lead or OTP for Yu Zhu & Lin Yu? So many arm candies to choose * hi hi *

    • dramatictealeaves June 22, 2014 at 11:09 am Reply

      Ahaha Hello, nice to meet you too! I’m sorry I can’t tell you at this moment the OPTs it would take a huge chunk of the story into the spoiler zone. Their lives are adventurous and I really want to avoid making their love lives too trite, it should be complex and whoever they end up with, should absolutely who they feel like could be by their side forever. Not many men could handle those two, they’re too different from the modern conventions of what ancient Chinese women should be, so whoever they end up with has to be equally fantastic.

      I did write a lot of good looking male characters…something one of my friends who read my story told me as well. She told me I need to make average looking me appear in the book too but I’m still debating that.

  6. 100kissess June 23, 2014 at 12:51 pm Reply

    Aww I don’t want Long Hui to die (because I have a feeling that he might/will die). The demon in his heart should at least be removed since Yu Zhu was sent to the demon world and Wei Yun had agreed to help Tu Suo resurrect the Empire. It’s sad that he’s not even given a chance to properly love or be with the person he loves. I’m still hopefully waiting to see if the two siblings would reunite and clear all misunderstandings (if that does happen). As for the male characters, I’m still rooting for Wei Yun. All the other male characters are indeed good looking but Wei Yun struck me the most because of the back story and I liked the way he was in the tree silently protecting her.

    This is really a nice well structured storyline and I’m amazed at how you came up with such intricate plot, twists and back stories. I feel for every character in the story. Thanks for updating!

    • dramatictealeaves June 23, 2014 at 8:06 pm Reply

      For me, Long Hui and Hua Er are really important. They still have a tale to tell and it won’t be so simple as to have LH die, I’m too emotionally invested in him!

      As for Wei Yun, he definitely is one of my favorites as well. And being stuck in a tree so long and looking out of YZ are some of his more redeeming qualities. How do you like the new characters, Zhan Ye and Zhuo Hao?

      • 100kissess June 24, 2014 at 11:30 am

        Zhan Ye and Zhuo Hao are nice characters but I feel that Yu Zhu’s interaction with them doesn’t struck me as much as with Wei Yun. Partly because she has his brother’s heart in her, I think that they are drawled toward each other more.

  7. Skoo78 June 23, 2014 at 9:32 pm Reply

    Thank you for another exciting chapter. LH and HE’s relationship is so sad. I do hope they ended up together. I must say though, the picture that you’ve chosen for ZZY, he is very handsome. Move over Wallace huo…lol…

    • dramatictealeaves June 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm Reply

      hahah I think Wei Yun should definitely watch out, I really like that picture as well!

  8. chang'er June 23, 2014 at 10:28 pm Reply

    I just stumbled upon your site and read through the chapters in one day. It is action packed and I really enjoy reading it. You have a very creative imagination and it’s nice to see people really exercise such gifts. Thank you for bringing the world of Yu Zhu and the different kingdoms to the readers. (=

    I remember reading some comment about not having average looking men. Haha, I don’t mind that. It seems like the people that Yu Zhu have encountered so far are royalty or of nobility so it’s not surprising that they are good looking. Anyway, I’m sure that demon pig who proposed was average looking!

    Also, I don’t mind that Xu Long Hui doesn’t have much affection for his sister. I really see him as a walking corpse and everything he can experience was frozen at the time he died. Since Yu Zhu was only two and didn’t have much interaction with him, and he was also the Crown Prince and was taught to be cautious and doubt had any friends or even brotherly relationships with his father’s concubines’ children, it’s hard to build that loving relationship with his sister. He only has the memory of what he once promised to his mother and probably the memory that he once care for his baby sister. However, Hua Er can affect him because she was the last person who was able to imprint such deep affections in him prior to his death that it’s the only thing he can remember and retain. I might be wrong in my analysis, but that’s what I envision.

    Also, it sounds like Hua Er’s wedding will be the bringing back of Yu Zhu to the Kingdom of Dian? Although she was hurt by Hua Er’s betrayal, I’m sure she still cares about the girl and would want to see her.

    But I do wonder, who is prettier, Yu Zhu or Lin Yu? Yu Zhu was described to be as beautiful as her mother and is a descendant of the Weaver Goddess who was also known for her beauty, however, Lin Yu seems to have more suitors. Is it because Lin Yu has this childlike innocence with clear eyes whereas Yu Zhu has this dispassionate demeanor and distant eyes which keeps people at a distance so men are less likely to fall for her over Lin Yu? Also, Lin Yu is a demon and had to learn to transform into a human. I guess she can also choose how to look?

    Also, which kingdom is Zhan Ye from? I might’ve missed it. And is Dian fighting the Yue and therefore they’re trying to settle with the marriage alliance? Or is Dian trying to form a marriage alliance with Yue to fight against the kingdom it is currently fighting. I got a little lost in all the details. Sorry.

  9. dramatictealeaves June 24, 2014 at 12:11 am Reply

    So many good questions! I’ll try to address them all. Thank you so much for saying that, it’s definitely been a really fun journey, and writing is really therapeutic. I didn’t expect to have such a great responses from the audience. Or an audience at all, so I’m always happy whenever I see comments, especially ones that allow me to see what’s working and what needs improvement.

    The demon pig character was always fun to write, and yes he was really ugly. I do admit that writing his interactions and slapstick always made me chortle.

    As for Hua Er and Xu Long Hui, their story is actually a little more complicated than I let on. There’s a reason why I haven’t gone into what happened after the two escaped the siege (when Hua Er and XLH were young)

    As for the Yue- Dian conflict. That was my bad, I should make this clear: These two countries are/were at war, this will end with Hua Er’s marriage into the Yue Royal Family. Both sides were evenly matched, with Hong Yan Su leading the armies of the Dian. And the current Eldest Prince of Yue on the other side. Zhu Zhan Ye and Zhuo Hao are brothers and princes of Yue, and they are also in line for the throne, even if Zhuo Hao dislikes it.

    I think in terms of beauty, the girls are different from each other, both are said to be stunning in their own way. Yu Zhu is calm and quietly beautiful while Lin Yu embodies wildness and freedom. Lin Yu’s looks isn’t really based on her choice, it’s more or less what nature has allotted her, even if it’s not her snake form. She does, however, take in temperament after her mother.

    Thanks for reading! Hope this answers all the questions!

  10. chang'er June 24, 2014 at 9:19 pm Reply

    Yes, you’ve answered all my questions. Thank you!

    Since I am no longer rushing to finish all the chapters, I can finally share my thoughts. This is my character analysis and/or preferences.. =P

    Yu Zhu – I love how she has developed over the years. At the beginning, she annoyed me with her too hyper personality, but when it did matter, she can also be cool and collected and unselfish. It was really surprising how she changed so quickly when she left to the demon world. But shock and disappointment can change a person from being unsuspecting and innocent to being careful and discerning. It’s just fun to see that Yu Zhu always had the sense of propriety, but just didn’t want to show it. And what’s there not to love when the girl is good and has great martial arts.

    Lin Yu – What can I say? She’s a great sister to have. She’s fun, kind, and caring. And she’s as simple as it can get considering all the other characters are complicated.

    Hua Er – She’s lived a hard life. She’s so loyal and true to who she is. She’s no damsel in distress and will fight if she can. I want her to have a happy ending.

    Wei Yun – I have a special heart for him even though seeing him so cruel is heartbreaking. But this guy has been through a lot. He was created for war and lived by killing and when peace finally arrived, he was used and made to witness the death of his brother and friend. I don’t find it surprising that he has hardened his heart towards the world. However, Yu Zhu allowed him to love and care again and he will do anything to protect what he has again.

    Xu Long Hui – I feel so bad for this guy. He tried so hard to protect his kingdom, his family, but he cannot fight against the demonness who is connected to his heart. I see that as a lifeline similar to that jewel that kept Kohaku alive in Inuyasha. I really hope that there is a way to keep him alive. Since he does have magical blood in him, maybe.. maybe there is some magical way to save him.

    Huang Wu, Tu Suo, and Zhuo Hao – I would say my preference is Huang Wu for Lin Yu. Tu Suo is like a brother to her. And I’m not sure what kind of affection Tu Suo has for Lin Yu either. There is a special bond there, but I don’t know if it can move towards the romance part. Zhuo Hao is okay, but he seems like a calm and kind person. Plus, he’s human and it seems like the whole of Lin Yu’s family is destined to love humans. However, Huang Wu is like a kid, he’s loyal and kind, and never admits what he’s feeling or thinking, but he soooo likes Lin Yu ever since she marked him. Haha. He makes me laugh. How can I not like him?

    Zhan Ye – I’m not too sure about him. He’s still a little mysterious, but I love his interactions with Yu Zhu. It makes my heart race. He’s smart, calculative, and has this drive that pushes him forward that I just can’t dislike him. We’ll see as the novel unravels. But in terms of character, I find Zhan Ye a lot more interesting than Zhuo Hao. Maybe it’s because he’s more explosive. Heh.

    Hong Yan Su – To me, he’s nothing but a face, and is calculating and manipulative. It was nice to know that he truly cared for Yu Zhu. If he knew she was alive, I could see him being obsessive and scary. However, Yu Zhu is no longer that innocent girl he once knew. She’s a lot smarter and will never be able to be with a guy who directly or indirectly killed everyone dear to her. But a part of me just gives up and thinks.. just give him the kingdom. There is no one to inherit and Yu Zhu will get her powers soon and will need to go back to the magical realm. I cannot see her as the Queen of Dian and ruling so openly as a goddess, though she definitely has the intelligence to do so. It’ll definitely save a lot of bloodshed and headache.

    Wow, that was long! Phew.

  11. dramatictealeaves June 25, 2014 at 3:03 pm Reply

    Ahahah I love it! This is actually very accurate depictions of all the characters. As for complicated characters, I do agree that each of them has gone through a lot and all react to each of it differently.

    Hong Yan Su’s father has always overshadowed him. His heart’s pretty twisted but he always viewed Yu Zhu as some one who could help him redeem himself, sort of the if I’m next to someone good, then I can be good as well. However, there’s alot of bad blood bewteen Yu Zhu and Hong family, since the last siege. Xu Long Hui may be dying but i don’t think that would stop him from getting the last laugh.

    As for Wei Yun, he’s in a bad place and its hard for me to write his story sometimes because I really had him to be this amazing God in the beginning. But no character in this story is purely one thing, they all have to make choices that affect the course of theirs’ and others’ lives.

    Huang Wu is going through a cataclysmic event in terms of character, which often happens during wars. I’m not going to talk abt him yet because I would go way into the story and spoil it.

    Lin Yu’s pretty near and dear to my heart, she’s one of my favorites because she’ blunt and often doesn’t give two cents about intrigue and complications. It’s not that she’s simple in terms of intelligence, but that she choose to be simple in outlooks of life. And she’s intensely loyal.

    I’ve got to get back to work, but I love this analysis, it’s fantastic!

    • chang'er June 25, 2014 at 9:15 pm Reply

      Great! It’s good to know that I’m forming a correct impression on the characters. And getting the affirmation from the author makes it even better. That means I’m really enjoying it to its fullest. But I pretty must gave you my analysis to encourage you and give you feedback for your writing. Jia you and xie xie! (= And I love your story!

      Do you have roughly an idea of how long it might be or if we are even a quarter way through? I know you have it outlined and not finished, but there are so much going on in the story that it feels like it could go up to 200 chapters. This is my first time reading an original internet novel (can it call it that?) so I’m just curious. If you don’t know or can’t disclose it, I understand. I’m not in any hurry either. If I could wait for some mangas to update on a monthly basis, I could wait for you to update your chapters.

  12. dramatictealeaves June 25, 2014 at 11:30 pm Reply

    Thanks you for the encouragement! Between work and other things, it’s hard to get each chapter out. I had to take a months’ break so that i could really map out how the characters were doing. Wei Yun’s trajectory (up to this point only!) made writing for him really hard while I was getting increasingly frustrated with the new characters’ back stories. But things worked out by themselves and I’m pretty locked down on everything.

    As for length, I really don’t have a definitive answer, I know what story I want to tell but not the time it would take to do so. I’ll try not to take up 200 chapters, because at that point I don’t think I would have a social life. Or a life in general.

    Writing is a pretty consuming hobby and each chapter takes a couple of hours in terms of detail construction, character development and plot dev. not to mention the ones I’ve deleted, and I can only do it after a full day work, food, and other necessities. Sometimes the best chapter I finish are the ones written 4 AM on a saturday though.

    But please don’t take this as a complaint, I love creating this story and it’s the greatest pleasure to see it come to fruition. I also love my readers and commenters so I’m definitely fired up to write more! I do hope my readers will understand why it takes me so long to update tho.

  13. chang'er June 27, 2014 at 12:34 am Reply

    4am on a Saturday?! That’s major dedication. However, please don’t push yourself if you need rest. This is a hobby and you’re not an official writer with a timeline (when I say this, I’m actually thinking about mangas since I’ve never read an ongoing internet novel before). And even for writers, it’s not easy, else, we wouldn’t hear about writer’s block. But I’m thankful that you don’t find writing this story as a burden to you, but as a joy that you’re able to share with others. After all, you are taking your own time to bring us this wonderful story. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • dramatictealeaves June 27, 2014 at 10:38 am Reply

      Aww thanks! There are times that writing just flows and comes easily and then there are writers’ block moments where nothing seems to be working right. But you are so kind, and I love sharing this story!

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