They both turned their backs to each other, before disrobing and entering the water. The water was cool against their bare bodies, but while they were in the water, she felt a strong desire to tell him how she felt.
"Brother Shang, you are actually very attractive. I've liked you for a very long time."
She was shocked by how bold her words were, but he just pulled her on his lap and kissed her wildly. His hand strayed to land on her back, holding her tightly against him. She also wound her arms around his neck, supporting herself as she kissed him back wholeheartedly.
"I don't want to marry Di Qing, Brother Shang."
He was the God of Mischief and the Jade Emperor's prince. Rules meant nothing to him. As long as he could, he would steal her away from any man's clutches.
"Brother Shang, you've been an immortal longer than I have, and you are already a god. Surely you have some memories worth remembering?"
They basked under the shimmering sunlight above their heads. Considering that the area they were in was a secret place that was not known to exist, Qiwan relaxed her arms and allowed them to immerse deep in water. If her father knew she was soaking nude in the water with a male, furthermore the son of the Jade Emperor, he would have flown there instantly and given her a serious beating and berated her for hours nonstop.
"Maybe I do, and maybe I don't," the god said naughtily and placed his hand on her shoulder. Yingshang had already been coming to terms with the fact that she was having a memory lapse. He did not query her on their past, and the fact that they had shared a few romantic moments together. He had been in and out of her life for hundreds of years before she had fallen into slumber.
"You said you want to make me yours, so why aren't you being truthful to me about your past memories?" she queried.
Indeed, she was the daughter of the God of Knowledge. Too smart for her own good, but no match for Yingshang!
He had not wanted to tell her, because he knew it was not time for her to know the past yet, especially the reason why she had ended up unconscious. He decided to tell her about his own memories, instead.
"The memory of my mother leaving me."
He pronounced the words rather sorrowfully. She was assured that this was something he was not comfortable bringing up. Yingshang's mother had died for more than fifty thousand years, and he was now seventy thousand years, while she was only half of his age, thirty-five thousand years. She was about to switch the topic when he suddenly said, "She took me to a field with butterflies and flowers. Then she left me there, and when I woke up I was alone."
"Brother Shang, do you want to go to a butterfly field to relive your memories?"
He glared at her. "I'm not a child anymore, so bear that in mind, Wen Qiwan."
She was slightly excited to see the outline of his muscular figure as he swam in the water, and again she was compelled to visualize his nude body against her own. She wondered if immortals had lust, and if coming together warranted any pain. Then she recalled that her Lord Father had told her that she wasn't conceived through sexual intimacy but rather, immortals pooling their divine essence together to create an immortal baby. The process sounded confusing to her, as she was such a simple-minded immortal. Where did the majority of her father's intelligence go? Maybe it was inherited by one of her older brothers.
Qiwan didn't feel like leaving the lake. She loved the cold waters against her body, and she felt the rejuvenating effect of the water, seeming to refresh her cultivation and enhance it further. But Yingshang was already ready to leave the water, and she gasped upon seeing his exposed bottom as he climbed out of the water, with his back facing her. She was still in the water, fortunately.
Yingshang used magic to put on his robes as fast as he could. Then he retreated deep inside the woods to sit under one of the huge oaks. She climbed out of the water and put on her robes slowly, as she did not remember how to dress using magic. She was still relearning most of her skills.
It took her about fifteen minutes to locate Yingshang in the woods. Half a day had passed without a trace, and she enjoyed the solitude of the forest.
They munched on berries as Yingshang told her a story of how he had frequented a mortal shop, and somehow the proprietor and proprietress could not get his order correct. He was frustrated, and so played a few jokes on them and gave them the shock of their lives. Qiwan retorted that it wasn't necessary, and as he was an immortal and they were not, it was not fair play.
"I'm the God of Mischief. You're not my wife yet, and you're already telling me what I should do?" he scowled. "You're just killing the mood here."
"I'm just stating facts." She responded calmly and seriously. What more could he expect from the daughter of the God of Knowledge, he thought, irked.
They parted ways abruptly after that. Qiwan hurriedly entered her room and lay down, fearing that her father would find out that she had again run off with Yingshang, but fortunately there was no sign from the seal of her father's impending travel to her cottage.
For the next two weeks, she was obsessed with reading novels but placed priority on cultivating and regaining her lost powers. She also performed a handful of chores at her father's temple, did some charity and accrued merits by doing good deeds. Her father would have been proud of her. Quyan had also visited and brought her some of her favourite cakes and desserts, among them being osmanthus cake and guilinggao, a type of black jelly.
Qiwan almost jumped when Quyan's maid mentioned that Yingshang also liked these sweet desserts, and replied with the word 'oh'. Quyan had chided her maid and apologized in front of her younger sister. Qiwan didn't think it was necessary, but she suspected Quyan knew something about her crush for Yingshang and how she had escaped with him the last few times.
Then, she recalled her quest to find out about Di Qing, as well as how Yingshang had pledged to make her his soon. She liked Yingshang a lot and was a willing party in his kisses, but she was convinced her father would never accept him as a son-in-law due to him being the notorious delinquent as well as having a spoiled personality. The fact Lord Wen would not possibly like Yingshang didn't equate to her having to marry Di Qing, though. She had to find a way to explain to her father that she would never marry or love Di Qing.
"Tang Jing, what should I do?" she asked the sprite. "Surely there has to be a way that I can put off Di Qing and make him lose interest."
"Hmm, there is one way," the sprite said. She put her ear close to the sprite's mouth and marvelled at the idea. Tang Jing had smartly suggested to her to have a blind date with the undesired suitor, and behave so that Di Qing would decide against being with her. Firstly, she had to gather as much information she could about Di Qing's likes and dislikes, and that ultimately translated into another visit to the heavens.
"Perhaps Miss Quyan would have some information?" Tang Jing said. Qiwan agreed, understanding her sister also resided in the Nine Heavens.
That night, when Qiwan retired to bed, the images in her dreams were beginning to get clearer. She saw a memory of herself begging the mortal, whom she now knew to be Fang Yiqi.
"I do not love you."
"Fang Yiqi, have you forgotten of our times together?"
"I repeat - that was not me."
Her tears stained the sheets as she wept during her sleep. Why had she developed something for the mortal and moreover, a cold and cruel emotionless mortal? But yet, the person she yearned for day and night was Yingshang.
She couldn't fathom.
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