“Your Highness? Your Highness, forgive me for disturbing you…”
At first there was no reaction. It took several moments before she saw his body shift ever so slightly. Exhaling a long, drawn out breath, he kept his eyes closed as he addressed her in a tired voice.
With her head respectfully lowered, Nai Nai held out her arms.
“Your Highness, I found this while I was cleaning my lady’s chamber. It was on the floor beside the bed.”
Hidden in a pool of blood.
Nai Nai watched him open his eyes. She couldn’t help but take a step back in fear when he turned his head to look at what she held.
It was the bronze mirror he had given Su Su back on Mount Junji.
Rising sluggishly off the floor, he held on to Su Su’s dress with one hand while reaching out to take the mirror with the other. If he noticed how Nai Nai trembled when he took the mirror from her hands, he didn’t acknowledge it.
Nai Nai stood there apprehensively, watching as the Crown Prince stared at the mirror.
“I thought you would want this immediately,” she said with a tremor in her voice. “Please forgive my intrusion once again. If there’s nothing else, I will be on my way.”
Head bowed, she backed away slowly and turned to leave. Just before she reached the doorway, the Prince abruptly asked, “The mirror… When you found it, was it face up or face down?”
Nai Nai paused by the doorway, surprised by his question. It took her a few moments to remember how the mirror was positioned when she’d found it.
“It was face up, your Highness.”
She took the ensuing silence to be an affirmation that he’d heard her as well as a silent dismissal. Nai Nai exited the chamber.
Ye Hua continued to stare at the mirror. He absentmindedly stroked its surface with his thumb.
The mirror began to feel warm in his hands as he slowly infused it with his magic.
Though they could transmit voices (to Su Su it was simply a means to speak to one another), the mirrors also allowed one to see the reflections they’d captured. He had only used this ability once when Su Su had first arrived in the Celestial Realm. He’d witnessed some of her initial suffering with morning sickness which had made him risk exposing himself by going to her bedside.
Why had he never used it this way again?
Because the risk of exposing your true feelings for her to the other Celestials was too dangerous, his mind replied.
Because it pained you to see her suffer, contradicted his conscience.
An internal debate unleashed in his head.
I avoided watching her because to do so was to risk exposing my concern for her to others here.
Liar. You didn’t want to see what was going on. It was easier to believe she was fine and her needs were being met. What you didn’t know, wouldn’t hurt YOU.
He squeezed his eyes shut.
I wanted to protect her. Marrying her here in the Celestial Realm would have secured her safety and allowed us to be together again.
You blinded her in order to “secure her safety”.
I am the Celestial Crown Prince. A Celestial royal marriage would have made it that we were no longer answerable to anyone.
The only one you should have ever been answerable to was Su Su.
This last thought finally made his mind concede defeat but his conscience was not done with him yet.
You continue to allow yourself to be controlled by the Celestial rules and regulations which have governed your every action since birth. Many admire your formidable intellect but you are nothing but a fool. Su Su taught you love and opened your heart. What are you afraid of now, coward? Do you have anything left to lose?
The final moments of Su Su’s death scene replayed over and over again. No matter how often he watched it of course, the ending never changed. The last reflection the mirror held was of the bottom of Su Su’s feet swaying above the floor over it, seen through a sheen of red.
Numb with shock, his fingers turned icy cold and he momentarily lost his grip on the mirror. Grabbing it forcefully back again resulted in him pushing a little too much magic into it at once. The flurry of images and sounds that followed whizzed over its surface incoherently.
Steadying himself, Ye Hua slowed things down. The chance to see her alive again was too tempting to resist though he knew it would crush him more. The mirror held more sounds than reflections (since she’d kept the mirror tucked into her gown). He could only see her reflection those few times she’d been holding the mirror in front of her to speak with him directly.
And she’d never done so again after her eyes had been removed.
The mirror began to play back their very first exchange when she’d talked to him about wanting a child to keep her company when he was away.
Voices and conversations reverberated throughout the chamber. He listened to everything the mirror had heard while Su Su had carried it on her person. And as he did listen, his expression slowly began to change. What started as anguish turned to anger, what was anger turned to wrath, and what was wrath ended in raging fury.
The main hall of the Celestial Palace shook and trembled under the Black Dragon’s assault. The Crown Prince’s dragon form smashed into its pillars and ignited its decor with its molten breath.
The Skylord was crouched behind his throne, yet he couldn’t help but observe the power of destruction being unleashed by an out-of-control Ye Hua with calculated interest.
Luckily the hall was empty at that time of the night. Other than himself, only Su Jin and her maid had been present. Su Jin had requested the late night audience with him in order to speak privately about the upcoming nuptials between her and the Crown Prince.
Both women were now cowering against the back wall.
The din was incredible. The Skylord’s ears were actually bleeding from the deafening volume of Ye Hua’s dragon roars.
Suddenly, absolute silence fell.
The Skylord peered out from behind his throne.
Amid the smoking debris, he saw Ye Hua back in his human form. An aura of power and rage radiated from him, heating the very air to a stifling temperature. The Skylord watched as Ye Hua made his way purposely through the ruined hall towards the back. Su Jin and her maid stood there frozen with fear.
Ye Hua walked directly up to the women.
With a level of savagery the Skylord never thought he’d witness from the Prince, Ye Hua’s right hand transformed back into its dragon claw and, in a violent single swipe, ripped out the throat of Su Jin’s maid. His arm remained extended in the air even when the maid’s body dropped to the floor. Blood and gore from her throat dripped off the tips of his talons.
Su Jin began to scream when Xin Yu’s body landed with a wet thump next to her foot.
Unblinking, Ye Hua then turned towards Su Jin. This time he shifted his hand back to its human form and reached out to grab her by the hair. Yanking her off the floor, he held her suspended that way. Rivulets of blood started to seep from her hairline down her face as her scalp tore from the pressure of his grip.
“Bitch,” he growled with bloodcurdling menace.
“You had her believe I no longer loved her. You had her believe I cared for you and not her. You made her cry… every… night. Now you pay for every tear.”
Don’t tell me you’re a monster.
He blinked as the memory of what Su Su had said to him on Mount Junji long ago sprung into his mind.
Su Su, why do you think I’m a monster?
Time froze as he thought of his reply. Ye Hua’s eyes closed and his body began to shudder. Slowly, his hand dropped and he released his grip on Su Jin’s hair. She fell in a faint to the floor.
He took in the destruction he had wrought.
Ye Hua, run! Quickly!
He just stood there remembering the feeling of her gripping his hand tightly as she tried to get them to run away from the danger she thought he was in.
Raising that same hand, he swept the entire hall with his magic and restored every inanimate object back to its original state. The Skylord observed this as well with even more interest. It shouldn’t have been that easy to reverse that kind of magically-wrought damage. Yet Ye Hua had just done so effortlessly.
The boy’s power was unparalleled. The Skylord had recognized this when Ye Hua was young and throughout the boy’s childhood, he’d made a point of keeping him under heel through rigid training and relentless study. He’d wanted to control and manipulate Ye Hua’s powers for his own gains. It was why he’d wanted Su Jin to marry as Princess Consort. She was completely obedient and loyal to the Skylord and would help him with regards to controlling the Prince.
Choosing this moment to emerge and descend the throne platform steps, he advanced towards Ye Hua cautiously.
“I possess irrefutable proof of the maid Xin Yu’s involvement in the death of the Crown Princess-to-be,” The formality in Ye Hua’s voice was ice cold. “As is my right, I have exacted retribution for the crime. I will now present myself to Lord Pua for my unsanctioned actions.” Ye Hua began to turn away.
“Ye Hua,” the Skylord replied hastily. “I know you’ve been distraught and… unwell recently. Do not let this (he glanced down at the maid’s remains)… unfortunate episode burden you. I will handle the issue of the dead maid. There’s no need to report the incident to Lord Pua. Leave Su Jin to me as well.”
Ye Hua stood silent.
The hairs on the back of the Skylord’s neck suddenly stood up. He began to feel a growing uneasiness. Why is he just standing there? Why isn’t he acknowledging anything I’m saying?
Ye Hua slowly turned around to face him directly. Within his dark eyes surged a depth of power that left the Skylord aghast, Ye Hua stared directly at him for what seemed like an eternity.
The Crown Prince then leaned over so close that his face was mere inches from the Skylord’s.
“You are afraid of me,” he said.
“You should be.”
And with that, Ye Hua cloud-jumped away.
Read the complete story The Scales of Atonement by SunInTaurus on Wattpad.
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