Chapter 9- The Melody in the Memories

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The lonely moon sighed in the dark sky as Xu Long Hui took out his silver jade flute. The delicate instrument flashed as faint and brilliant as the twinkling stars. After a moments, he held it to his lips and blew the first few notes, letting the melancholy sound melt into brittle air. The honeyed notes warmed the night around him and dusty memories of long ago stirred gently, gracefully rising out of the ground like ephemeral dancers in the wind.

Two ghostlike children, memories from a decade ago, ran past him, laughing and screaming, brought to life by the bittersweet music. Xu Long Hui could see it all, the garden, the little smiling girl in lilac, the lake of serenity…

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Chapter 8 – A Request

“Hua Er, Hua Er! Where are you? Come back to me, please…. please” Echoes of the long dead child was desperate, even frantic. Hua Er tried to grab the outreached hand in the shadows but she just couldn’t reach. Darkness slammed like ocean waves crashing against the haggard rocks drowning the helpless voice. She was falling away and the desolate voice was leaving, still asking her not to go… asking her to find…to find what? Hua Er drifted farther and farther, the more she tried to find the voice, the less she was able to grasp it. And it was gone

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Chapter 7 – The Doctor

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(Ye Zu Xin aka 10th Prince of BBJX as Doctor Li Sun in my novel) 

Yu Zhu could see that Hua Er’s face was ashen and her breath was becoming shallower. Yu Zhu felt an overwhelming sense of blind panic as they ran through the silent city, past the shuttered windows. This was disastrous. How could a incognito trip to the outside world go so horribly awry. She had just wanted to have fun with Hong Gege for a day, but now Hua Er might die. Yu Zhu prayed to the gods that if Hua Er lived, Yu Zhu would go back to the palace and be the most obedient princess in all of history.

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Chapter 6 – The Man in Cloud White Robes

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 9.30.47 PM (Hu Ge as Xu Long Hui of My Novel)

“Yu Zhu, do you hear that?” Hua Er panted and winced in pain, the gash on her leg bled sluggishly. They had abandoned their horse and were on foot, running through the endless houses and corridors. The ghostly music of a xun wafted though the damp night air. Hua Er grabbed Yu Zhu’s hands and they scrambled towards the sound, leaping silently over rooftops and trees.

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Chapter 5 – Attack in the Bamboo Forests

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 10.03.54 PM (Tang yan as Hua Er)

They were walking back to the main streets, which were becoming quieter as people left for their homes.

Ying Lang trudge with the three, his boots squeaking with water as he went. He shivered and glared at Hua Er and opened his mouth. Hong Yan Su slung an arm over Ying Lang’s shoulder. “You’re quite lucky.”

Ying Lang turned his fierce gaze at Hong Yan Su, “I looked like a wet fool, how am I lucky?”

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Chapter 4 – A Sort of Reconcilliation

“Stupid Shan Ying Lang, I hope you trip and eat dog poop.” Yu Zhu muttered to herself as she angry stripped off the leaves of a willow branch. She sat alone on a tiny dock in the little lake of the Sighing Moon surrounded by gentle green hills. Lovers walked here arm in arm as they enjoyed the quiet choir of crickets serenading in their grassy enclaves.
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Chapter 3 – Royal Incognito

“Princess Yu Zhu! Sit still, or else you will look like a beggar instead of a young master” Hua Er, her maid sighed as she grabbed the hank of loose hair and tied it up into the elegant nobleman’s knot. She glared as Yu Zhu bounced excitedly in her seat. “How can I?” Yu Zhu was breathless with giddy, “Father’s letting me go out of the palace to the festival with Hong Gege and I don’t even have to be a princess!”

Hua Er shook her head as she adjusted the black topknot cover, “You’re only 12, I don’t think you should be going out of the palace, even in a disguise. It’s not safe.”

Yu Zhu grinned impishly at her, “You’re going too. And you have to dress like a man as well. I can’t wait to see what we look like!” Hua Er grimaced and continued to attack the princess’s hair with the brush.

Continue reading “Chapter 3 – Royal Incognito”

Chapter 2: Meeting Him in the Garden of Serenity

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This is the Second Chapter, set in the ancient Kingdom of Dian in the Warring States Era. You can read the first chapter here.

In Chinese GeGe is a way to say Elder Brother, it’s a sign of familiarity not an indication of family relations. The Princess meets two very important men who would shape the course of her life.’

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Hua Er ushered the little princess into the rooms. She picked up a pearl encrusted brush, patiently untangling the unruly curls.

Hua Er softly spoke, her voice had a dreamlike quality to it. “Your brother was only twelve and you two when Lord Lu and Lord Luo decided to rebel. They led an army of ten thousand men into the palace, leaving rivers of blood in their wake. You and and your brother escaped on horseback, taking me with him. We headed deep into the stone forests.  No man ever went into it voluntarily, for the Stone Forest was the border between the demon and living world. Demons and evil spirits that lived there are said to hunt and enslave any souls that dare encroach their territory….” Her voice got fainter and fainter as Yu Zhu’s eyes drooped.

The hazy scent of the Mu Dan incense, mixed with the heady smell of the linden flowers was too much for the little girl who had spent her day escaping maids and palace guards.

Hua Er smiled and picked up the child, gently depositing her on the bed. Her lovely figure bent over and blew out the candle. Yu Zhu had fallen asleep so quickly that she didn’t even remember when the older girl had left. She dreamed of the melody about the sad boy waiting for the little girl….

“Princess Yu Zhu wake up! You’re late to your martial arts lesson, Teacher Ma Yu will make you swim the length Lake of Serenity!”

Yu Zhu sat up with a jolt, Teacher Ma once made her stand on one foot on the roof of the Kun Ming Palace for 2 hours because she had yawned in class. The teacher told her it was to build character, but Yu Zhu thought it was because she was angry at her for drawing faces on the teacher’s favorite robes in ink.

Yu Zhu flew down the white stone corridor of her royal residence to the hanging flowers entrance of the Garden of Serenity. Maids and Eunuchs in blue and grey silks knelt along the bright red walls to murmur greetings and to say a silent prayer for themselves. She skidded around the corner and struggled to put on her soft fur boots, the maids behind her dangling scarves and other articles of clothing, desperately chasing after their little mistress.

As an old eunuch once described, while rubbing his sore bottom, running into the princess was like being assaulted by a tornado of flying silk and flying maids. The chance of injury was dangerously high.

 When she finally arrive at the entrance of the garden, Teacher Ma raised an eye, “Princess, it seems you forgot something.” Yu Zhu looked down, in her haste, she had only succeeded in putting on one boot. Teacher Ma shook her head and said softly repeated to herself “The pay is good. The pay is good…”  She gestured to the little girl, who had just caught the other boot from a palace maid, “Let’s start.”

“The thousand jade lotus strike is to be done with grace and deftness befitting of a noble lady defending herself without seeming to, not a drunken swimmer frantically trying to dog paddle to shore.” Teacher Ma Yu admonished as she corrected Yu Zhu’s stance.

Yu Zhu glared at the maids whose faces are turning red from laughter. Her silk sleeves tangled with the dragons well tea bushes, the sound of delicate silk ripping made a vein pop out on Teacher Ma Yu’s forehead.

“Your movements should be as delicate as a dragonfly resting on a flower.” The teacher’s fluid motions were graceful and deadly at the same time as she showed her pupil the move again.

Yu Zhu made the same move, only this time she looked like she was trying to swat a fly, and desperately failing.

Loud, booming laughter erupts from behind. Yu Zhu turned around, furious, only to find her father clutching his sides. The two young men on either side of him had different expressions on their faces. One’s smile was as warm as the sun, and the other seemed to be holding in his laughter.

The maids and teacher knelt as Yu Zhu stared at the youth beside him. He was much taller than she remembered.

Three years ago he still had the look of a pampered young lord, now he was as tall as her father, with flashing eyes beneath elegantly arched brows. His once boyish face was sharper and more defined. Around his belted waist hung the gold and black scabbard issued only the the generals of the King’s armies.

Yu Zhu laughed gleefully and ran to embrace him. It’s been three years since Hong Yan Su, the seventeen year old son of General Hong Zhao appeared. He always played with her, no matter how busy he was.

“Hong! Hong! You’re back!” Yu Zhu ran towards him to jump into his arms when someone grabbed her by the waist.

“I beg your forgiveness, Your Majesty” Hua Er says to the Emperor calmly as Yu Zhu struggle against her iron hold, “The Princess should know better than to attack a young man in the palace.”

Someone chuckled, “I’ve heard that the princess was skilled in various fighting skills, today my eyes have been opened.”

The young man beside Hong Yan Su grinned wickedly. He was dressed in the grey and blue outfit of the fabled and deadly Qin Hu crack regiment. As tall as Hong Yan Su, his arms were crossed in front of his broad shoulders. He winked at Hua er. “She’s certainly got style.”

Where Hong Yan Su had the agile grace of a panther, this man had the air of a haughty young tiger, all muscles and restless energy. There was an slight smile on his lips, as if he found something funny in everything he saw and couldn’t be bothered to share it with anyone else.

His eyes found Yu Zhu’s, there was something so familiar about him, about the heat of his eyes. Yu Zhu and the young man stared at each other until Hong Yan Su coughed and gave Ying Lang a gentle shove. Yu Zhu looked down and, and to everyone’s surprise, blushed.

“Ying Lang, show respect for the princess.” Hong admonished his companion and bowed respectfully to the Emperor. “Please forgive my battle brother Ying Lang, he is only 16. And though he is a fearless warrior and the pride of your highness’s foot soldiers, he is still clumsy in the ways behaving in front of royalty.”

The Emperor smiled delightedly, “I’ve heard of Shan Ying Lang’s many accomplishments, he and Xu Long Hui saved Ran Jian’s entire regiment from decimation by breaking the enemy’s Eagle formation. Where is your right hand man, Long Hui? I’ve wanted to meet him since I heard the stories.”

Shan Ying Lang gave the Emperor a bow,  “Long Hui hasn’t been feeling too well lately and asked me to beg your majesty’s forgiveness. He says that when he is better, he will come pay his respects.”

Hong Yan Su nodded, then he smiled warmly at Yu Zhu, “My little Princess Yu Zhu, have you missed me?”

Yu Zhu’s father guffawed, “She’s been talking of your return since you left. She said she was going to be a refined princess when you came back. But, as we’ve seen today, anything with a tinge of femininity, even in martial arts, and she’s clumsier than a bat in daylight.” Even though it sounded like a complaint, anyone with ears could hear the adoration he had for his only child.

The emperor patted his daughter’s hair, “How am I going to marry you off when you get older?”

Hong Yan Su bowed “The young princess is so beautiful and talented that anyone who marries her will have generations of luck and favor.” Behind him, Shan Ying Lang rolled his eyes.

Forgetting that strange current that passed between her and the strange Shan Ying Lang, Yu Zhu beamed at her Hong Yan Su and then quickly stuck her tongue out at Shan Ying Lang. Shan Ying Lang blinked, surprised.

 Hua Er makes the mistake of releasing her hold, Yu Zhu zoomed out and grabbed onto Hong’s sleeves happily, “I’ve been very good. Look I’m even wearing shoes now!”

She stuck out her slipper shod foot as Hua Er blanched at the lack of propriety. She hurriedly yanked Yu Zhu’s skirts back down again as the rest of the maids shook their heads in shame.

A second vein popped out on Teacher Ma Yu’s head, “The pay is good…I’ll retire soon…” She repeated to her self, the two thoughts that often crossed the minds of people who served the princess.

Yu Zhu blunder on unabashedly,”Father promised me that if I’m good, you would marry me when I turn seventeen! Will you? You have to!”

Hua Er sighed in exasperation and bowed, “Your highness, please kill me. I have failed to teach the princess proper manners befit a lady of her class.”

 She put her hand on Yu Zhu’s head, and forced her to bow slightly as well, “The princess is late to her archery lesson, we must leave.”

The emperor laughed, “How can I punish you when it’s this little rascal that refuses to behave?”

He mock glared at Yu Zhu, whose large eyes was silently protesting the lesson, “Listen to Hua Er. And stop trying to set your arrow on fire, I’m not rebuilding the archery fields again because of you.” The maids shuddered at the memory, silently begging the emperor to stop talking, as it might give the princess ideas.

Yu Zhu straightened and pouted, “But I want to spend more time with Hong gege.” Hong Yan Su coughed, no one noticed that his ears had gone slightly pink.

The emperor flicked her forehead, “Hong Yan Su has just gotten back from the battle field, you shouldn’t start laying siege just yet.” He turns to Hong Yan Su, “Come, we have much to discuss.” Yu Zhu watched Hong Yan Su leave with a wide grin, barely listening to Hua Er’s stern lecture as she was dragged away.

Chapter 1: Melody in the Night

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(Photo Courtesy of Sina Weibo)

—-oOo—-

Thousands of flame red rose petals of the jade pool swirl in quiet contemplation, the air filled with incense and quiet whispers of bustling royal serving women. They waited anxiously as they prepared the large jade bath, their shapes slightly distorted by chiffon drapes.

“Let me go! Unhand me!” A child’s voice roared, seemingly able to shake the very foundations of the palace itself.

“Battle stations.” The Head Maid in charge of royal cleanliness ordered. The women bowed and grabbed their weapons of choice, heading into their thankless and daily battle with the only child of the emperor.

“Princess.” Hua Er said sweetly as she frog marched the little girl in, “Please stop climbing onto the roofs. The captain of the royal guard is threatening to have a heart attack and die rather than have to chase after you again..”

“He seems pretty healthy” The littler girl muttered, “You should see him run, he chased me across three gardens and five rooftops.”

“I can’t believe you hung his grandson by his underwear on a tree and left him there for a day. They said the boy is so sunburned he’s the color of plum.” Hua Er gestured at some maids, they approached cautiously, hardly believing the child covered in mud was their revered princess.

“He beats his servants.” The girl argued, “I was carrying out justice.”

Hua Er smiled and shook her head, she turned to the maids “What are you waiting for? If she escapes this time, we’ll have to track her by smell.”

The maids’ eyes shone with the steely look and pounced. They’ve been stranded on rooftops, lost in garden mazes, or tied to trees while trying to capture the princess for bathing nights. Tonight they would be merciless.

Two guards outside heard the screaming and splashing, their normally cheerful if not extremely mischievious princess had lost. One guard tossed bronze coin to the other, “You said Hua Er would catch her within the hour.”

A few hours later, a clean figure emerged like a phoenix from the ashes, wearing creamy white robes adorned with a silver imprint of the dragon. The little princess left a trail of muddy, exhausted maids in her wake.

She sighed to Hua Er, “I need to work harder if I want to be better at Kung Fu than you.” Hua Er laughed and bowed, “If you, Princess Yu Zhu start studying harder, I’m sure it would be an easy feat.” They strode through the little Pavilion of a Thousand Wishes, enjoying the warm summer air.

Yu Zhu shook her head dramatically, “It’ll take forever!” The gold and silver pins popped out of her shiny black coils like raindrops. Purple robed maids flew around her to try and catch the precious ornaments.

A poignant melody drifts through the gardens. Yu Zhu tilted her head, listening intently. It was the sorrowful notes that she had heard in her dreams, ever since she was a little girl.

It was the song about a forlorn brook deep in the verdant stone forest and the lonely boy who sits by it, waiting for the girl who promised to come back.

Yu Zhu started toward the sound, running through the vast corridors and resplendant pavillions, searching for the melancholy tune. Her wide sleeves billowed around her as she stepped into her own pavillion, her pale face turned towards the starless sky

A retinue of maids in green and silver poured out of the magnificiant rooms, bowing and waiting her for their princess to go inside.

“Leave me.” Yu Zhu said as she looked around, it felt as if the song was fading. Hua Er had followed with ease and nodded to them. Here in under the fragrance of the Yu Lan tree, surrounded by the fiery bloom of the camellias, the faint strain of music awaken the shadows of Yu Zhu’s past, reminding her that she had forgotten something very, very importnat.

“Princess,” Hua Er quietly walks up to my side, “What are you searching for?” The music was gone now, only echoes of the melody reverberated in the silver crickets’ chirps.

“I thought I heard something…a song.” Yu Zhu hummed the little bit she could remember

Hua Er looks shocked and softly hum the rest of it. “This was a song your honored mother, the Empress used to lull you and your brother to sleep. When I was a girl, I use to sneak into her pavilion just to listen for a few moments.”

Hua Er quickly wiped the tears from her eyes, “It’s a song the Emperor had forbidden in the palace, how do you know of it?”

“Is it because of what happened ten years ago?” Yu Zhu whispered.

Hua Er nods and she too stare off into the distance, looking lost. After a long while, she asks hesitantly “Back then, Lord Lu Jun and Lord Luo led the coup against your father. The King was out, leading the battle on the border when Lord Luo led his army into the capital. He had burned half the palace, killing all of the King’s children and wives. The only ones he couldn’t find were your mother, your brother the crown prince, and you.”

Yu Zhu closed her eyes, to her, those memories were half remembered, like looking at a painting through a silk screen. “I only remember running a lot.”

Hua Er looks at her sadly, “Yes. Your mother had gotten word about the attack and she helped your brother flee the palace with you on the backs of the strongest blood sweat horse captured in Xi Yu. Your brother was so handsome, even at eight, a pale gold lion ridding a midnight steed. Everyone was screaming and dying, the fires were roaring like wild tigers in the palace. He saw me, just a little palace maid in training no older than him, frozen by terror in the midst of chaos. When he passed me, he crouched on his horse and scooped me up.”

This was more than anything Hua Er had ever said about the events of almost a decade ago.

“Hua Er, why won’t anyone tell me about what happened to my brother? Sometimes I catch my father staring at me like he was looking at someone else.” Yu Zhu may asked carefully.

In that moment, Hua Er looked as if she was standing on the abyss that separated the living and the dead, looking for specters long gone.

The twinkling light of her eyes diminished as they take on a look of profound sorrow. She held out a hand to the girl, “Come inside, the night is growing cold.”

 

 

My Original Novel and Who I want the Characters Portrayed By

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So I’ve been working a my own fantasy novel for quite a while, well, sort of, I’ve been distracted. But I would like to repost my first two chapters before I post the next couple of chapters.  The is the story of the Ancient Kingdom of Dian, of a world where gods, spirits, demons, and humans coexist. I grew up hearing the tails of spirits and demons of Chinese mythology and it will be incorporated into the story. But as of now, the story is set in the Dian Kingdom and follows the live of the young and only princess, Yu Zhu.

Please feel free to let me know what you think of the story. But first, a few characters and who I would like to play them in real life.

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