Hello readers, thanks for the really warm response to Chapter 11! It motivated me so greatly that I finished Chapter 12 early and I'm excited to share this with you. I have been planning this story for such a long time that it's almost with great relief that we have finally reached this stage. I feel terribly excited and shall squeal with you when you finish this!
Chapter 12: Weakness
Crown Prince Sun faced the crowd and asked, "So, who made this dish?"
The previously raucous crowd fell silent.
I watched as Crown Prince Sun's eyes slowly scanned the faces in the crowd, one by one, until his eyes fell on me. I felt like a rabbit ensnared by the sharp talons of an eagle - you might think he was not looking for you, but he was only taking his own sweet time to get to his prey.
I never had the opportunity to escape.
I stood up, my head held high, and announced, "It was me."
I watched as the edge of his lips rose up. He came forward and gave a gentlemanly bow to me, "I am Crown Prince Sun, pleased to meet you."
I heard the Heavenly Empress voice sweetly from behind, "The Royal Princess Wang Huan, your royal fiancee."
"Is this fate?" Crown Prince Sun smiled widely at me.
I looked coolly back, "I don't believe in fate."
"How coincidental, neither do I," Crown Prince Sun declared and swiftly grabbed my hand in his. He pulled me towards him and he quickly whispered, "If you don't follow me, I will carry you out of here."
He lifted his head at his parents with a earnest nod, "Since we have found each other, we shall make our grand exit now."
With that, Crown Prince Sun pulled me out of the Grand Palace Hall under the startled eyes of all the gods and goddesses.
When we reached a secluded hallway beyond the eyes and ears of the hall, I immediately retracted my hand, but as if he was expecting it, his grip had already tightened over my hand.
"That hurts," I said and blinked back hot tears.
He quickly let go of my hand. He leaned his head sideways to look at my face carefully but I bowed my head down.
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, to be mad or happy. Previously, I couldn't like Ri because I was engaged to Crown Prince Sun. Now, I can't like him even more because he is... Crown Prince Sun.
Thinking of it, I felt a fresh bolt of rage heat up in my heart. I raised my fists and started to hit Crown Prince Sun's chest forcefully. He did not defend himself. He just stood there and received my beatings.
After a while, I stopped and laughed bitterly, "Even when I try and hit you, I'm the one who gets hurt instead." I felt my knuckles ache.
He held the back of my hands and transferred his divine energy.
"Let me go," I barked.
Crown Prince Sun sighed, "You are wrong, because I hurt, Wang Huan, I hurt too... I'm sorry. I never meant to lie to you. When I first visited your courtyard, I had gone there with the intent to get you to break the royal engagement, but... you struck up my curiosity, and slowly... I didn't know how to tell you who I was."
He pulled out a silk parchment from his robes and unfolded it before me, "When you said you hated Crown Prince Sun because he killed your childhood friend, even more I could not open my mouth to reveal the truth."
"Since then, I had asked Yao Feng to check on the Spider Demon Tribe... you should already know that they have gotten their just retribution, they breached the laws of the Heavenly Realms and the Dark Realms by elevating their powers by taking the divine heartstone of minor gods and immortals --- thereby completely extinguishing these beings from the cycle of life and death, " Crown Prince Sun continued, "To commit such a cardinal sin, the whole tribe must be punished. Those who were directly involved were exterminated and those that had no direct part were banished... your childhood friend, the son of the leader of the Spider Demon Tribe was spared. He is still alive."
Yan Zun, my eyes brimmed wet with unshed tears.
"Wang Huan, I'm going to ask both our fathers to give a royal pardon to the Spider Demon Tribe to celebrate our royal engagement. If you don't like me, you don't have to marry me... just maintain the engagement until the Spider Demon Tribe returns. I will make sure that the Spider Demon Tribe settle safely back in the Dark Realms again."
I finally returned Crown Prince Sun's gaze. I looked at him in confusion, "But why are you doing this? Don't you know how much they hate you?"
"It's unfair," I shook my head. Like a rabbit feeling the eagle's talons plunge into its back - so deep, so sharp, so painful, and yet this rabbit was willing. How stupid must a rabbit be?
He asked, "Why is it unfair?"
"Everytime I decided to push you away, you force your way back again," I said with a honesty that surprised myself.
Crown Prince Sun suddenly placed a finger on my lips, "Someone is coming."
He turned around and there were two palace guards arriving from afar. They bowed down towards us, "Your Highness, the Jade Emperor is looking for Royal Princess Wang Huan."
"What is the matter?" Crown Prince Sun asked coldly.
One of the guards hesitated for a moment before answering, "Jin Mei has been poisoned."
I fell back, startled. Crown Prince Sun caught my arm and steadied me. He gave me a soft reassuring smile, "Don't worry. I'll be with you."
We were led towards one of the guest bedrooms in the Grand Palace. When we entered, the Prosperity God angrily stormed towards me but Crown Prince Sun quickly stood in front of me and blocked the Prosperity God's advance. He spoke in a harsh warning tone, "Prosperity God."
I turned and saw Xiao Mi standing next to the bed, her face ashen white. She quickly came towards me, "Mistress, the Heavenly Imperial Physician has diagnosed that Jin Mei has been poisoned by the dark ambrosia flower."
I felt my body stiffened. The dark ambrosia flower was the royal flower of the Dark Realms - a delicate red petalled flower that looked like fireballs of blood... with a scent so intoxicating that people had fallen into deep immortal sleep just by sleeping in a bed of dark ambrosia flower. It was extremely toxic... in the dark ambrosia flower was an invisible nectar that was said to be able to take away immortality and even kill a god. But, to remove the poisonous invisible nectar was a highly difficult task......a secret in the Royal Tribes.
I thought back to the herbs that seemed to resemble herbs from the Dark Realms on Jin Mei's kitchen platform earlier. I sighed, she must have stolen herbs from my stash... someone must have wanted to poison me, and she got poisoned instead by her own greed.
I turned to the Jade Emperor who was sitting calmly in the middle of the room, "I didn't poison Jin Mei, but I have a general idea of how she could have been poisoned. A few days ago, a stash of the precious herbs and food ingredients from the Dark Realms was stolen from me. Those precious herbs could have been poisoned with the poisonous nectar of the dark ambrosia flower..."
The Prosperity God interrupted me and ranted furiously, "How dare you call my daughter a thief!"
I continued calmly, "There is no reason for me to poison Jin Mei. Even if I want to poison Jin Mei, would I use such an obvious poison that will make me the number one suspect?"
The Jade Emperor raised his hand up, "The most important thing now is to stabilise Jin Mei's situation. She is in critical condition. I have sent guards to the Dark Realms to try and get the antidote from the Dark Lord, but it doesn't look like Jin Mei has much time left..."
I shook my head, "There is no antidote for the dark ambrosia flower. The only way is to cut open her stomach, to suck out the poison using divine energy while someone with strong enough divine essence sustains her during this process...... but it's so dangerous that it is likely both Jin Mei and the person giving the divine essence will die together."
I paused for a moment and Crown Prince Sun caught my eye. He shook his head. He stepped forward, "I will do it. I will preserve Jin Mei while someone else sucks out the poison."
I shook my head, "No. There is another way... use my," but before I could finish my words, Crown Prince Sun had covered my mouth. He solemnly looked at me and spoke to me in a hushed voice, "If you do so, everyone will know your secret and you will never be safe again."
Gently, I took down Crown Prince Sun's hand from my mouth. I forced out a bright smile, "Aren't I the invincible medicinal pig? I am stronger than you think I am." I narrowed my eyes, "If you don't let me do this, I will never forgive you."
I turned to the Prosperity God, "Quickly go find the herbs that Jin Mei was using... I need to ingest it. My blood will be able to make the natural antibodies for it."
By now, the Prosperity God was too worried for Jin Mei to even argue. He quickly ordered his servant to gather the herbs that Jin Mei was using before she suddenly collapsed.
This time, the Jade Emperor looked inquiringly at me, "Are you sure?"
I didn't know why but I felt like a huge block had fallen off my chest. I smiled and nodded, "Too many people have died of poison around me...... if I can, even if it just one person, I don't want to see her die."
I thought of my mother then and the sweet smell that always surrounded her. There are too many things in my past I can no longer save, I don't want to have the same regrets.
"One would think that you are scared of needles," I smiled as I watched Crown Prince Sun's tense face as the Heavenly Imperial Physician carefully pierced a blood vessel on my wrist for my blood to pour out.
I didn't feel any pain as Crown Prince Sun was transferring his divine essence to me while the Heavenly Imperial Physician carried out the process. Crown Prince Sun winced as he saw the blood flow. Somehow, seeing him feel the pain for me, warmed my heart.
I gave a calculative look to Crown Prince Sun, "Your debt to me is not done. I still plan on punishing you."
Jin Mei needed a large amount of blood since the poison had diffused within her whole body... I slowly started to feel faint. The last thing I heard was Crown Prince Sun echoing in my ears, "Yes, punish me. Wang Huan, you better get well and punish me or I will run to Hell and punish you!"
I faintly remember thinking how can he be such a dictator when he is in the wrong... but I never got to finish that thought.
Xi Yang watched the Dark Lord carefully as the Dark Lord expressionlessly surveyed the unconscious Wang Huan resting on her bed. The Dark Lord had immediately headed to the Heavenly Realms when he received news of the poisoning from the Jade Emperor's envoy.
After a moment's pause, the Dark Lord said simply, "I will be taking Wang Huan back to the Dark Realms."
A ripple broke through the stillness in Xi Yang's eyes but he remained calm. "I apologise for not taking care of Wang Huan properly, but I promise you that she will be safe in the Heavenly Realms."
The Dark Lord gave a cold laugh, "For thousands of years, Wang Huan's secret had been safely kept. A week in the Heavenly Realms and the secret of her blood has been exposed."
Xi Yang was about to respond when the Dark Lord shook his head, "You don't even know who is the main perpetrator. The person behind this is cunning... he or she is attacking in many directions - whether trying to poison Wang Huan or poison the people in the Heavenly Realms and getting Wang Huan to become the sacrificial lamb. The main aim is to sow discord between the Heavenly Realms and Dark Realms and to stop the engagement. She will be safer in the courtyard in the Dark Realms... there she will remain till the Royal Engagement Ceremony."
Xi Yang's eyes flowed with a quiet despair and desperation such that even the Dark Lord smiled. The Dark Lord laughed, "Boy, I say this because I have walked this path before. She is your weakness, and you are hers. Don't overestimate yourself or you will regret it."
Xi Yang nodded and declared in a bloodthirsty tone, "I shall find out who is behind this first."
I blearily opened my eyes. As I slowly regained my awareness, I nervously waited for the pain to seep in. But, there was no pain.
Instead, when I opened my eyes, I saw Crown Prince Sun. He was sitting by my bedside, his hair slightly messed as if he had been lying on the bedside. But, still, and as always, he glowed with a beauty and radiance I could not turn my eyes away from.
"You have been unconscious for a week," Crown Prince Sun said and I noticed then that his eyes were bloodshot.
I tried to raise my upper body but he stopped me. He reached out his hand and stroke the hair on my forehead.
"Your father has indicated that he will bring you home once you wake up," He sighed.
"Wang Huan," He called my name. I felt my heart ache.
I realised that my throat was very dry and I couldn't speak.
"You are going to go very far away," He said, his eyes looked at me, not with his usual cocky air, but a quiet need, "Can I put a seal on you? A seal so powerful that I can still sense you from here?"
I was supposed to be angry at him. But, I knew already that I was long gone. Hypnotised.
I never had the opportunity to escape.
I nodded my head lightly.
And, then suddenly his whole demeanour changed. His eyes lit up with a twinkle that would overshadow even the spiraling stars on the Destiny Lord's Wishing Palace.
He started to bend down and kissed my forehead.