After I ate breakfast, there were still several hours before the wedding in the afternoon. I would then have to exchange vows and go through a ceremony where we would greet our ancestors by bowing to them, then bowing to heaven. It was one of those cliche ceremonies, but somewhat different from the ones I had seen on television.
I was already dressed for the part, anyway. I just had to endure through all the rites as people came and brought my vows for me to read and ran through the ceremony with me. It was only late in the morning before the ceremony started that I could find some time to see my father.
“Father,” I called to him as he was walking through the hallways along with several servants. “Father, do you have a moment to spare me?”
Dong Che was startled and then fearful that there might be words he did not wish to hear from his son.
“Yes, son, I can spare it for you. The ceremony will begin soon. Please don’t tell me you want to cancel the engagement.”
“No, it’s not that father, it’s just there are a few things I wanted to ask you about mother.” I was genuinely curious what the deal was that a mortal would have a child with a cultivator. “I’m certain there was a reason behind it all, but I’m not sure why a large and powerful sect would tie themselves to a mortal over conceiving me.”
Dong Che heard my question, then turned to the servants beside him. There seemed to be a resolution in his eyes, as though he felt obliged to let me know a few things I hadn’t known before.
“Complete the preparations as I instructed,” Dong Che said. “I’m going to have a private conversation with my son and no one is to interfere.”
We go to his small private office where he did most of his business dealings and he has me sit opposite of him across a table. There he served brewed some tea and served me a cup.
“Son, this is going to be a very difficult topic for you, but it’s something I feel I must tell you know that you’re finally going to be a man and get married,” Dong Che started. “The truth about your mother is something the cultivators themselves keep as a well guarded secret, but I’m only now allowed to tell you this because it will be more convenient for them for you to not to question. I feel you might be ready now.”
“Yes, father,” I said.
“The first thing you must know is that I love you, son, and so does your mother. Even if she hasn’t been around, she loves you, but the rules cultivators have and the rules we mortals endure are different. I have never been in the world of cultivation and I may never understand the things that they do.”
“Yes, father, I understand. If there is something you cannot explain, I will accept it.”
I really wanted to know as much as I could since the original Dong Chen knew little about himself. It was a mystery why a Sect Master from one of the most powerful sects would have a child with a mortal.
“In truth, I was a poor man and born to a poor family,” Dong Che began. “I had very little growing up, and the local lord killed my parents for not paying their taxes. With that they cast me out and had nothing, so I scrounged and begged on the streets until I was your age. Eventually I decided life simply wasn’t worth living like this anymore and so I left the city and wandered the forests waiting for a demon beast or monster to kill me. When I was attacked, your mother was the one who came and saved me.”
“Mother saved you?” I thought they didn’t have feelings for each other.
“She saved me because she said she needed me to fulfill a task,” Dong Che said. “The secret cultivation for the fate of the Sect Master’s technique requires conceiving a child. I don’t know the details, but her purpose of using me was to conceive a child so she can reach the top. After conceiving the child I had to groom you until you were of age to marry, and then once you’re married my task is complete. In return, I would have the backing of the sect’s cultivators protecting me and funds whenever I needed.”
So everything Dong Che has wasn’t by his own cleverness or business savvy, but through the sect. I guess it makes sense since he went rich to poor.
“After one night with her, you were conceived.” Dong Che seemed regretful. “I never once saw her face or her body as everything was done with me being blinded. She nursed you as a baby for several months until you could eat food and then left you for me to care for along with guards from the sect to ensure your safety.”
Well now, it makes sense why Dong Che never kicked out Dong Chen despite his desire to not marry a woman. It has something to do with the Blossoming Flowers Sect.
“Remember, son. The only reason you have everything you do is thanks to your mother. If it were not for her and you were born to someone else, you would have absolutely nothing.”
It was a grave warning he made, as though telling me to never disrespect my mother. I wasn’t sure how to think of it because the mother in Dong Chen’s memories was someone who held him and smiled at him through the mask. When he became a teenager however, she stopped the smile and simply attended the party becoming more distant.
“I understand father, I will never disrespect my mother.”
“Good, son, always remember that.”
I took my leave. The information just left me with more questions.
The afternoon came, and I went to meet Jade, who was now arriving. When I met Jade in the restaurant, she was very shy and timid. She appeared she was unsure of being with me and expected me to cancel the engagement. If she had wanted to cancel it I wouldn’t have minded. As beautiful as she was, beauty that doesn’t love me is useless beauty.
I still had a bunch of cute maids, and my father said I could take any one of them instead. Also, I’m sure there were a lot of beautiful women around who would want to marry into wealth. With the Sect’s backing I could play around, chase women and just enjoy life without a care in the world.
Then I could probably write poetry or some other thing people in this sort of culture does, make up things about the Dao and I’m sure they’d all buy into it. I could also work on learning business and figuring out how the economy here works since it couldn’t be too difficult with the backing of my mysterious mom.
Jade was dressed in a beautiful red robe with white flower patterns on it. The breeze blew by as her black hair waved in the wind and the veil across her face swayed back and forth. It was a picture worth saving, one that took my breath away.
It was customary to say no words and bring her in for the vows.
I walked up and helped her down from the horse. I escorted her to the grand hall where the rites would be held and the ceremony where we made our vows under heaven. It was a quaint scene with so many people but silence among them to where only the sounds of animals and nature were heard.
In the end the vows were said. We bowed to each other and our parents watched as we went to banquet where we sat in the center. Many came up and congratulated us as newlyweds and this happened until the sun went down.
I was excited. My first time. My wife can’t refuse, can she? I mean, she agreed to it up till now.
Dong Che was sitting with Sing Ho at the table after the two had left. Sing Ho had a radiant smile on his face as they toasted each other with wine.
“To our family’s future,” Sing Ho said clinking his goblet with Dong Che’s.
“To our grandchildren!” Dong Che answered.
They both drank the sweet wine with each other as both men became slightly drunk, talking about things they normally wouldn’t. Around them, the female cultivators stood watching for danger.
Dong Che felt something awful in his stomach. Something was burning him from the inside and soon he felt his heart skipping beats irregularly. He clutched his heart and fell to the ground in pain.
“Someone help!” Sing Ho yelled. “Someone help!”
The female cultivators rushed to his side, but one of them stopped them.
“The Young Master has gone to consummate his marriage, we no longer have need of him. It is likely all over now.”
Dong Che fell over clutching his chest in pain wondering what misfortune caused him to die. Sing Ho stood over feigning anguish as he begged the female cultivators to help him.
Risless felt a jolt as she was looking upon the moon at night. She was preparing to leave in the morning, but something within her pushed her into a dreadful feeling.
Elder Liu was nearby, coming to her as she noticed Risless had something happen to her. She brought some tea to her as Risless struggled with her breathing for a few moments, then she stood up to leave.
“Where are you going?” Elder Liu now asked.
“Dong Che is dead,” Risless said. “I felt the fluctuations, he died before Dong Chen could consummate, so I must go to him now before it’s too late.”
Risless disappeared as Elder Liu stared at the moonlight with a saddened face.
“The progenitor always said there would be a day where one who cultivated the Fate of Extreme Beauty wouldn’t succeed in finishing the rite.”