To be honest, I'm quite nervous starting the story again after the break. I fear that my writing is too rusty and I can't do my own story justice - I know it sounds a bit ridiculous - but I haven't been in the best physical and mental state. But, I also feel like the story has been living and breathing inside me and just bursting to come out for so long already that I must, no, I need to write it out and hopefully it will get better and better as we reach the end.
As you know, I've already mapped out the whole story from the start as is my normal style. I've a very clear idea of how I want to finish the second arc, which will end around Chapter 17/18. But, I do feel like I might have to take a step back when the second arc completes to really consider the third and final arc and what will make best sense for the overall story.
Without further ado, let's return to the Island on which An Hun and Yu An are......
P.S. I think this might be the most favourite chapter I wrote so far for this story.
Chapter 14: The Heartbreak Song
They had flown across the starry night and landed in a mist of snow. Is this home? Yu An thought to herself as An Hun led her down his large silvery bird. This was the Royal Palace of the Wu Kingdom, the residence of the Royal Princess of Wu.
But it felt so unfamiliar, so foreign - the way the winter winds chilled her bones, the way the gusts brushed past the thistles and the snow off the pagoda ledges - the way the powdery snow mixed with the snow from the sky, and everything was just white.
Yu An watched as with a flick of his hand, An Hun had disarmed both the soldiers guarding the door of the Princess' bed chambers. Yu An nervously touched her face, no, a foreign male face - An Hun had even transformed her body. She was a tall distinguished man, a classic elegantly handsome face with eyes like the break of dawn - only the eyes were her own.
An Hun took out a small pipe from inside his robes. With a swish, the pipe lit up and a thick syrupy scent flowed out of the pipe. An Hun pierced the pipe through the silk paper inlay in the doors. Suddenly, Yu An felt An Hun's other hand over her nose.
"What's this?" Yu An asked. Her voice was smooth and masculine.
"A scent that blurs a person's perception of dreams and reality," An Hun said as he retracted the pipe and eliminated the scent with another swish.
Then An Hun's lips turned into a rather cunning smile, "It's your turn."
Yu An felt herself being pushed towards the doors. She pushed the doors open and was met with a question from a beautifully sweet voice, "Xiao Ling?"
Yu An did not answer and continued to step into the bedchambers. She saw that at the side of the table was a grand wooden guzheng with precious golden inscriptions. She sat at the guzheng and started playing.
In the midst of the notes, she heard hurried footsteps.
There was a gasp.
Yu An lifted her head - she knew she must look like the Yan Emperor right now, a distinguished elegant man, playing the guzheng, a lift of his head, he smiled at her. Her, the Royal Princess of Wu.
"Hsiao? Gentleman Hsiao?" She asked, her eyes widening as if not quite believing the sight before her.
Softly, every so softly, she added, "Is this a dream?"
Yu An felt a slight pang of guilt in her heart but she decided that if she could, she wanted to weave a beautiful dream for this elegant Royal Princess of Wu. So, she smiled, "Qin Xia, I've come to hear you play the song you wrote for me."
She took a step back as if not quite being able to handle the weight of what was before her. And, then she gave a slight nod, "So, the song I wrote... it has finally reached you."
Yu An stood up and gave a bow towards the Royal Princess of Wu.
She continued to look at Yu An for a long while before shaking her head with a faint trace of smile and mocking. "You did that before... that image of you rising from the guzheng and bowing towards me, how many times have I replayed that image in my head? How many years have it been? And now... you are before me again. Even if this is a dream, let me play for you...... let me play for you."
Without any further words, the Royal Princess of Wu sat on the guzheng.
Yu An had played the Heartbreak Song to herself many times on the guzheng before - but what the Royal Princess of Wu was playing was of a completely different level.
From the very first note, Yu An knew that Royal Princess of Wu was playing her life. It was as if her heart had been cut from her chest and every single word, every single image, every single memory she had of this man before her was etched through her heart like guzheng strings that were needled through her, one by one by one. So painful, so tight, so deep...... she did not know where she started and the music ended - she did not know where she ended and the music started.
So, it started with a young girl, a princess, but the Wu Kingdom had many princesses. Nothing extraordinary about her - quiet, introverted, pleasantly sweet face but she had a pair of beautiful delicate hands. And, these hands, were able to make any sound in the universe. It was just her and her younger brother, one of the many princes in the chaotic Wu Kingdom.
And, then, a gentleman came from across the seas. In a robe of pure white, one jade green flute, a smile on his lips but the saddest most gentlest pair of eyes - as if someone had stolen the stars that lit his eyes, and his moons were forever eclipsed. She knew instinctively that this person's eyes must not originally be like this.
He was intelligent, kind and gentle. He mentored her younger brother and through lots of hard work and stroke of great fortune, her brother ascended to the throne to become the next Emperor of the Wu Kingdom - the most unexpected one out of the fourteen princes.
She knew she should be happy when her brother ascended the throne, but her heart was only in sorrow for she knew that meant he would be leaving.
Only once did his eyes lit up - when the moon was full, and he saw a passing pure white pigeon. It seemed to rekindle his memory. So, while he fell into his own memory, she fell into him.
The day he left, she knew she would never see him again. She only told him one thing, I hope you see her again.
She still remembered the smile he gave that day. She still remembered all his smiles. She kept them safely inside her heart, like carefully folded butterfly wings, waiting to be remembered, waiting to fly again.
And, so she wrote this song, this song she was playing for him now.
This song that said I still remember you.
When An Hun heard no more sound coming from the bedchambers, he waited for Yu An to exit. But, after a long while, she still did not.
Sensing something was not right, An Hun entered the bedchambers and was unsurprised to see the Royal Princess of Wu passed out over the guzheng.
What surprised him was Yu An standing by her side, tears flowing unceasingly down her cheeks.
Wordlessly, he pulled her out of the bedchambers. He whistled for his silvery bird, brought Yu An back up onto the silvery bird and they escaped back to the dark night they had came from.
When the silvery bird took off away from the palace, it was then only then when Yu An burst into loud wailing sobs which were mixed with heavy sniffling sounds like she was having trouble breathing.
"Yin Hua!" An Hun cried, his patience reaching his limits, "Are you going to cry so much that you are going to drown us with your tears?"
"You... you..." Yu An pointed accusingly at An Hun, "You don't have a heart so you don't know how painful a broken heart must feel like."
At this, An Hun pressed both his palms on Yu An's cheeks and transformed her back to her original appearance. It was disturbing enough to see Yu An crying, it was even more disturbing to see her crying in the form of the Yan Emperor.
An Hun then ignored Yu An and sat far across the other wing of the bird.
Still, Yu An continued crying. An Hun did not know why but Yu An's tears needled him. Needled him in a way that he had not felt in hundreds, or maybe thousands of years.
Yu An did not know why was crying so badly. She tried her best to stop but the tears kept flowing. Yu An herself did not know heartbreak - how could she? She did not even know who she was. But, that pain she felt from the Royal Princess of Wu's song erupted within her.
Yu An thought the tears would never stop when she heard it - heard him.
She wasn't sure at first because the sound was pure light. She closed her eyes for a moment, the tears seeming to stop because she needed all her energy, all her concentration to listen to the full beauty of this sound.
She turned her head right and she saw it. The sight confirming the sound.
He was singing.
She had only heard a mermaid's song through a triton shell before. Already, the mermaid's song was enchanting, something she had never heard before.
But this - this dark god of a man and mermaid - that sang before her, she was mesmerised.
His voice was deep and dark, yet his notes were light.
What was he singing? This calm assurance to her heart. It felt like lullaby. A mother singing to her child......
Her eyes into his. Her heart racing. She knew that she was wrong. So completely, irrevocably wrong.
He had a heart. A completely shattered heart.
The beautiful pure voice that broke through the fragments of pain and loss.
And, then, the most amazing thing happened - Yu An watched as the silvery bird dipped down towards the ocean and the ocean itself started to light up - a golden shimmery path started to shine and got brighter and brighter as they neared.
The mermaids were leading him home! They recognise his song.
Yu An shook her head slightly, no, he never needed me. That instrument he needed - all along it was inside of him.
She did not know why but she felt this unknown sense of fear and anxiety grow deeper within her with each step he took towards her. Suddenly, he was no longer that difficult dark prince who had captured her, poisoned her, made use of her - he seemed to have grown far more different, far more great, far more dangerous that anything she had ever known...
"Are you ready?" She watched him ask as his mouth curled into another malicious smile.
He inclined his head towards the waters, "Don't forget to breathe."
She was about to say that she won't be able to swim deep and breathe under the waters when he pulled her towards him and she felt his mouth pressed onto hers. That malicious smile!
He pressed his lips with deep force and she felt her lips open in surprise and protest.
Before she could say anything or bite his lips, he had already thrown his head back, "With that, you should be able to breathe underwater."
And then, without waiting for her reply, he jumped into the ocean.
All she could think of at that moment, her heart ringing in her ears, her cheeks aflame, were the words he blew into her ears, Don't forget to breathe......
The Princess Who Cannot Marry