I decided to read this after seeing Peanut's blog entry. I think out of all the ancient c-novels I've read so far, this c-novel has probably the most debatable "happy ending". I thought this would just be a "filler" read, when you feel like reading something but don't want something too great or overwhelming as it becomes too addictive and paralyses the other parts of your life. But, this was incredibly addictive and I could not put it down till - I finished it.
Hong Ning, is a red camellia sprite, who falls in love with Jin Xiu, one of the greatest gods in heaven. He was the former king of Central Heaven, but was demoted to be the Flower God temporarily, before he ascends again to his rightful place. In front of everyone, she announces that she wants to be his queen, and so he tells her to "cultivate" and become a god.
In his heart, he knows the gap between him and Hong Ning is too wide (because he can only marry the gods of the royal bloodlines) - but he thinks that cultivation for Hong Ning and becoming a god will be good for her regardless. So, this starts their fate.
In order to become a minor god, Hong Ning goes to the mortal world to pass a trial. There, she meets Gong Zi, an extremely rich handsome nobleman, who longs in his heart for someone to give him true love. She becomes a red camellia flower in his field which is about to be removed - so she takes human form at night and pleads with him to spare the field. She recognises that Gong Zi is not happy despite having all the material wealth he could ever want - Gong Zi thinks he has finally found someone who knows him, and promises to spare the field if she appears before him every night and gives him her heart.
Hong Ning tells Gong Zi that she likes someone else already - but Gong Zi says he only wants a few decades, because he is human and won't live so long. She can fall for her god after he is dead. Lots happen in between - Hong Ning realises that she could never be Jin Xiu's queen and she feels tricked, another flower deity pretends to be her and meets Gong Zi - making Hong Ning think that Gong Zi did not really love her - Hong Ning's trial comes and Gong Zi sacrifices his life for her.
Hong Ning realises that it was a trick by a flower deity - which Jin Xiu did not reveal, hoping she will stop the foolishness of feelings and focus on cultivation to be a god. She's incredibly devastated by Gong Zi's sacrifice and asks Jin Xiu to turn her into a mortal so she can repay Gong Zi's sacrifice.
This starts everything - Jin Xiu to fulfill Hong Ning's wish - has to experience divine punishment (which Hong Ning does not know) and he takes great pains to give her some precious water from some spring so that she has the chance to cultivate to become a god again. Hong Ning goes through ten lifetimes in the world - in one lifetime, she marries Gong Zi and returns his sacrifice (<3).