When the God of Blacksmithing's wife conceived their son, it was a quiet day aside from an infants piercing cry that split the air. Shang Lei received his son with the utmost care and love that made his wife, Fang Jung, beam with pride.
Jin Lei was their sheltered son, and because they loved and protected him too much, they did not allow him to step even one foot away from their house. This made the little boy's curiosity reach to such a degree where he could not help but be bold.
When he was 300 years old, he decided that it was time for him to seek his own life. No matter how much his parents showered him with toys and gifts, what he really wanted was his freedom.
One night when the crescent moon rose high up in the sky, he ventured outside of his small palace with a nap sack full of clothes and his own prized possessions: a jade frog and one piece of gold which his father had given him on his recent birthday. In this new life of his, he planned to live freely. If one gold was not enough to get by, he had already anticipated selling his frog, albeit very reluctantly.
Upon making his way down the mountain where he resided, he came upon plants and mythical beasts which he had only read about in books. This excited him so, and tried to catch the beasts that flew away upon seeing his small figure race towards them. A few hours later, he was exhausted and decided that this outside world was not so friendly after all. He began regretting his decision, but he had already come so far, how could he give up now?
He walked again as he reveled in the new sights that spread before his eyes. Although the night was eerie, his deity eyes perceived the surrounding area as if it was bathed in soft light. It was a good thing for him as well, for if he had not these eyes, he would have fallen into countless of mishaps.
As time progressed, his 300 year old body could not sustain the weight of his bag which became heavier and heavier with each step. He decided to rest for awhile when he saw a kingdom up ahead. He did not know what kingdom this was, but upon seeing the uniquely structured designs, he surmised it to be the fairy kingdom.
The kingdom was radiantly sparkling in the night, as if the walls were made of jewels. Despite his evident fatigue, he decided to quicken his pace and enter the wonderful city which attracted him very much. The place seemed uninhabited, but it was due to the fact that it was already very late at night, and the fairies always thought highly of their beauty sleep.
Jin Lei suddenly felt very tired, his short legs already shaking in exhaustion. He pulled into an empty alleyway and decided to take a nap, using his clothes as bedding. He thought that if this is what freedom was like, he would rather go back to his loving parents. But it was already too late to go back.
He woke up the next day to a kick in his stomach. Before even gaining full consciousness, he made a fetal position in defense.
"Hey! What are you doing here, sleeping like a beggar! You sully our beautiful streets with your pathetic appearance!"
Jin Lei focused his eyes on the kid who had his foot on his stomach. The kid was only a few hundred years older than he, but his mouth was so foul for a fairy.
"Hey! Answer me!" The kid pressed his foot down harder, and his posse of arrogant misfits snickered in derision.
"I think he's a runaway!" One kid pointed at Jin Lei's nap sack which had torn places all over from the brambles he had passed on the way.
"He probably got kicked out by his family."
"Poor thing." The seemingly sympathetic words dripped with sarcasm.
Jin Lei was astonished to find that the first thing he experienced after entering this short-lived freedom of his, was to meet people like them. He had never been treated this way in his life, and it piqued his interest due to its novelty.
"Gross! This kid is smiling!" The foot disappeared from his stomach as the owner stepped back in disgust.
"Haha! He's poor and also a retard!" Laughter emanated within the narrow alley, but Jin Lei pretended not to notice. While still on his side on the makeshift bed, he covered his face to block out their sight.
"What's he doing? Is he deaf too?"
One kid picked him up by tugging his arm. Jin Lei only reached to his shoulders, and the kid looked down at him in smugness.
"I should teach him a lesson, right? I'm the son of the fairy duke, and to see people like him spreading filth in our home is just too much, right?" He asked without waiting for approval.
He struck his fist across Jin Lei's face, and Jin staggered backwards in shock, blood dripping from his nose. He spat out blood into his palms, and he stared at them in horror. How could anyone treat him this way?
The kid was about to place another strike against Jin Lei's unmoving figure, until a loud voice rang out in the distance.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"
The kid stopped his fist and turned around in surprise. What he and his friends saw was a silver haired child whose beauty was unparalleled even in the fairy kingdom. The little beauty was younger than them by a few centuries, but she exhibited such grace and authority that made them slack jawed.
"W-Who are you?" The leader of the posse asked as soon as he cleared his head.
"Hmph! How impudent! You ask me who I am? Impudent! I'll ask YOU who you are and what you're doing to that child!" Her silver hair swayed in the air even when no wind passed.
"Stay away from this, little miss, and we won't hurt you."
"Yeah, stay away girly or your pretty face won't be so pretty anymore." They all sniggered.
"We're just teaching him a lesson." One kid began dialing his nose.
"Disgusting!" The little beauty said. "I'll give you one last chance. If you don't step away from him, you won't be getting out of your beds tomorrow."
Her eyes sent a chill down their spines, but they suppressed it. After all, she barely even reached their shoulders! Her frail appearance and sinister threats didn't match at all, and they all thought it was merely her pride talking.
"Well we warned you--" just before the leader could finish his sentence, he was knocked against the wall with his nose skewed.
"...what happened?" One of the boys said as he could not comprehend what he just saw.
"I think you look better with your nose that way," the little girl said as she saw the limp figure of the leader plastered against the wall.
"H-How dare you!" One boy turned red in anger, but the girl could only sigh helplessly. In all seriousness, boys were stupid, she thought.
"Why don't boys learn their lessons?" The girl shook her head earnestly. The boy wanted to kick her legs while her eyes were turned away, but just as he lifted his foot, he felt himself being lifted in the air.
"This is the difference in our abilities. Although I am still a child, my innate talent is much more compared to yours. I don't want to gloat, but there is no surprise that I would be so powerful." The girl giggled as she moved her hand down in an arc.
The boy was suddenly dropped down on the ground, kissing the floor with his face.
"Your Highness!" A crowd of imperial guards and lady attendants suddenly appeared at the mouth of the alley, crying in worry.
The boys looked at the crowd, then at the little girl in shock. Your Highness? Who was she? ...Could she be? They looked at the sky, wanting to be finished off. They would rather die right now than to realize they had severely insulted one of the most important people in Heaven.
"What happened here?" An imperial guard stepped into the alley, inspecting the recumbent boys.
"Did they injure you, Your Highness?" The boys thought how unfair life was, for the guard to actually ask that when it was obvious as day that they were the ones injured!
"How could anyone injure me?" She scoffed. "I don't know who their parents are, but escort them back to their homes. They need to be disciplined."
The girl had stood in front of Jin Lei in a defensive position, and when the obstacles disappeared, she turned around to face him with a bright smile. It was as if nothing had transpired before, and her smile like blooming flowers made his young heart stir.
"Are you okay?" She asked as she wiped away the blood that had already caked his nose. "You obviously don't look okay though? I'm sorry for even asking that." She shook her head in apology.
"What are you doing here? We're of the same age and yet you're here all alone!" She was suddenly worried for him, a complete stranger, and his heart turned warmer as the minutes ticked past.
"I ran away from home," he replied honestly, his head bowed.
"Why? Did your parents not treat you well?" She looked at him with concern.
"No, no," he hastily refuted. "I just wanted to experience freedom, that's all."
The little girl laughed, her silver hair cascading down her shoulders. Even her laughter was like the sound of bells, he thought. He suppressed the urge to touch the silvery strands, and kept his hands by his sides.
"Well I'm sure you've had enough of this freedom for a day. You should go back to your home. You'll soon realize that in this world, not everyone is as kind as you think."
She sounded so mature and worldly that he couldn't help but look up to this girl who had out of the blue, helped him in his time of stupidity. Although his strength could be at par with the leader, but to have so many boys outnumber him was too much of a feat for him. How was she so strong?
"Oh, by the way, I'm Juju." Her childish smile erased his worries, and he suddenly was glad he had been in this place at this point in time to be able to meet her.
"I'm Bao Lei," he offered his nickname, so it would seem more intimate.
"Bai Hua!" Juju called out to one of her maids.
Bai Hua bowed low to her mistress before speaking. "Yes, Your Highness?"
"I'll be sending off Bao Lei home, so you can go ahead without me."
"But Your Highness! Will you not look through the fairy kingdom? Their King had personally prepared a banquet for you today!" Bai Hua knew the King wanted to curry favor with the Emperor's niece, as it was easy to lure children with delicacies.
"I've had enough. Tell him I don't want to anymore. If kids treat other kids this way with such discrimination, then I don't want a part of it! Imagine, if I were not a royal, how would I end up?"
Just the thought of Her Highness being battered to the ground made Bai Hua so angry, she wanted to confront the King herself!
"I understand, Your Highness! I shall personally deliver your words." Bai Hua, together with the other attendants, bowed courteously and left.
The remaining Imperial guards stood there awkwardly, unsure of what to do.
"Please escort the ladies. I will be fine by myself," Juju said.
The guards knew how capable the young Highness was, and although they did not want to leave her alone, they could do nothing but abide her will.
"And so, let me take you back to where you belong." She turned around to face Jin Lei, holding out a small and slightly chubby white hand. He took it without any hesitation, and they traveled back to the route leading to his house.
"Will you be going to school?" Juju asked as they walked leisurely in the forest.
"School? I have heard of it, but I don't know if I want to."
"I'll be going when I'm 500 years old, so you have to be there as well." School was compulsory for children aged 500 to 10,000 years.
"Is that so? I will have to go then."
A kid's heart was easily swayed.
When they arrived at the little palace on top of the mountain, Jin Lei realized how foolish his rebellion was. He had forgotten his parents were not at home, and had been on vacation in another remote area and would be returning only the day after tomorrow. He was relieved that he did not worry them, but also disappointed because he couldn't let them know how much he wanted his freedom.
"I don't think good parents would prevent their children from getting a good education." Juju stopped at the gates, letting go of his hand. He suddenly felt very lonely.
"My parents are good people. They spoil me a lot," Jin Lei confessed.
"Me too!" Juju beamed. "They spoil me rotten! That's why I can beat up people whenever I want!"
"Was that something to be so proud of?" Jin Lei thought grimly, though he held no ill-will towards her.
"In 200 years, we'll see each other again soon!" Juju patted his shoulder as she smiled warmly.
Jin Lei nodded hard. 200 years was nothing to an immortal. He was going to wait just to see her again.
200 years passed. Jin Lei and Juju were not placed in the same class, and could hardly interact with each other. It was very fortunate that although Juju had a bad habit of forgetting people's names and faces in the long run, she could still remember the pretty little boy she had helped in the fairy kingdom. How could she forget? When after that event transpired, the fairy King was so ashamed, the boys were actually sent to her palace to be personally trained by her! And these boys willingly complied to her every whim, becoming more like slaves than students.
Jin Lei and Juju did not have much interaction with each other in school, however, as she was also constantly surrounded by people who adored her. She was the hero of justice, and the bullies that existed in school were met with her fist of retribution. Her fame was so high, it was difficult to reach her.
Jin felt that no matter what he would do, he could not even reach her feet. He felt more desolate as timed passed, and even as they graduated from school at 10,000 years old, he did not have much situations wherein he could converse with her properly. In those years, they had merely smiled as they passed by each other in the hallways or had short chats about something mundane whenever a situation presented itself. In all these times, she had a group of people following her, so it was hard to talk about something privy only to themselves.
It was during the graduation ball that Jin made a social blunder that he would regret all his life.
Juju was wearing a black gown that seemed like the night sky had been embedded into it. Her bountiful chest was accentuated as well as the curves of her hips. Her waist was tiny, giving her an hourglass figure that many envied in their adolescence. Together with her silver hair that shined, it was as if she was born from the stars and moon. When she walked into the room, everyone could only stare in amazement.
Juju's face reddened in embarrassment, and she took an empty seat that was closest to her, which incidentally was beside Jin.
"Bao Lei," Juju greeted him with a little nod. Jin felt his heart beat doggedly against his chest.
"Juju." He found out his mouth was suddenly dry.
The surrounding male students kept staring at Juju and her perky chest, that it suddenly triggered Jin Lei's anger and jealousy.
"You shouldn't wear something like that," he chastised. How could he let her wear something that left nothing to the imagination? You just had to imagine it in skin tone, and...he quickly suppressed his lewd thoughts.
"You don't like it?" Juju bit her lower lip in sadness. "Mother had this made for me, though uncle and my father were adamantly against it. They said I should wear a potato sack to the ball!" Her laughter rang in the air. "Can you believe it? A potato sack? They actually believe I'll still look good in it!" Jin honestly thought she was beautiful no matter what she wore.
"It's not that I don't like it..." He liked it too much, but he didn't like other people to like it as much as he did. "Your face is just..." Too beautiful, like your heart, he thought.
Suddenly, the fairy lackeys started entering his vision as they wanted to ask Juju for a dance. Why now! How could they interrupt this moment for him? He hardly ever got a chance to actually talk to her by himself.
In a race against time, for lack of a better word to describe her face, he accidentally blurted out, "Ugly!", the antonym of the word that had been at the tip of his tongue.
It was precisely that moment in time where everyone had chosen to be quiet so they could overhear the handsome fairy males ask the silver haired beauty for a dance. It was also coincidentally at the same moment where they overheard Bao Lei say that she was ugly.
Juju stood up abruptly, knocking her chair back in full force. "How could you?" She looked at him with tears in her eyes. "You didn't have to say such thing in public! I know I'm not the prettiest, but you didn't have to say it that way!"
The audience was dumbfounded. If she was not pretty, than what were they? Manure?
After graduation, the students all found out that Juju wore a veil everytime she went out of her palace. In time, many people had forgotten how beautiful she was, and her heroic deeds were left in the ravages of time. The people who had followed her in school, soon had their own lives to deal with after graduation. Even the fairy men who became her lackeys returned to their kingdom as they soon took over managing the family territory.
Many years in the future, they would remember Juju as someone they had befriended. They could not, for the life of them, remember how she looked. Only that she was brilliant as the sun and as dazzling as the moon. These impressions lasted, but the truth was also that she was way out of their league. Only a handful of people remained by her side as years passed, for the others were still in awe by her position in Heaven and could only think of themselves as lowly people who did not have any right to be with her.
Thus, it came to no surprise that no marriage proposals came. The Jade Emperor and Yanwang also made sure that proposals would not arrive until she reached 150,000 years old, but those preparations were unnecessary.
It was easy to forget the specifics when you lived for many thousands of years, but the only person who did remember every single detail was none other than Jin Lei himself.
He was seven parts regretful and three parts relieved by what he had told Juju that night during the graduation ball. He regretted making her cry, but after seeing that she wore a veil over her head in the many years that followed, it was considered something of a benefit for him. At least no one would see her beauty progress as time passed. At least no one else but him remembered her heart.
It was then he came to a decision. In order to be worthy of her, he needed to become strong. He needed to become someone who achieved many things for this Heaven that was her home. He kept himself in isolation, cultivating into peak form. When he turned 20,000 years old, he became the youngest Heavenly general. When he was 30,000 years old, he had defeated the Demon army with only 1,000 soldiers.
The Jade Emperor thus gave him the title of God of War. But Jin Lei did not stop there, and continued to reap amazing feats that made him a hero in the hearts of little children. He became a household figure, and no one in Heaven and in the netherworld did not know or hear about him. He was a legend.
Jin Lei strolled along the famed orchard where plum blossoms were in abundance. Although he was already 50,000 years old, and had gathered many achievements to his name, he still thought it was not enough to be worthy of her. He wanted to ask for her hand in marriage, but wanted to be in a more prominent position where even the Jade Emperor himself could not refuse the proposal.
As he contemplated on the next stage, he suddenly saw a familiar head of silver hair flash in the corner of his eyes. She was so deeply engraved in his heart that he knew it was her without any second thoughts. He had not seen her in 40,000 years, and now that he unexpectedly reunited with her, he could not hear anything else but the sound of his own heart beating wildly against his chest.
But why was she hiding behind a tree? He could see the hem of her dress peeking out from behind a root. Was she still angry by what he had said but did not mean? He had abruptly apologized to her afterwards, but it was understandable that she would still hold a bit of resentment. After all, what lady would want to be called ugly in front of a crowd?
He sighed, then walked away, his heart heavier with each step. Perhaps he would give her more time, and then he would apologize to her again. But first, he had to do something important. He had to prepare himself. He had to undergo his trials.
20,000 years later Jin Lei descended to the netherworld. This was his last task to attain higher immortality, and no matter what trial he would face in the mortal realm, he could not fail. As he was waiting in line for the soup of oblivion, he felt someone was staring at him with such unnerving force.
At the corner of his eyes, he saw a head of silver hair flash above a boulder. His heart raced. What was she doing? Was she sending him off to his trials? He didn't think he would be so fortunate, but Juju had not left her hiding spot even as he began to drink the soup.
He smiled gently as he thought of how seeing her before his trials gave him a spurt of strength. He would never allow himself to fail now.
He thanked Old Meng, and crossed the bridge of reincarnation. After all of this was said and done, he would make her his bride.
- The Bishie's Queen
First and foremost, I am a neko who loves to write. I'm a cat lady~ and also a medical student in the throes of insanity lol. I'll probably only write one story on here before I completely vanish into thin air, so all I can say is:
Thank you very much for reading! *bows*