Blue Phoenix - Prologue
Hui Yue closed his eyes and turned his face towards the window. The slightly chilled breeze flowed gently through his messy hair. Summer was coming to an end, and a tranquil smile was evident on his handsome face as he opened his eyes and looked at his surroundings. Happiness was the only word which could describe Hui Yue’s current feelings.
Hui Yue noticed two girls who were intently staring at him while they whispered to each other. A cheeky smile appeared on his face as he enjoyed the cuteness of the two girls, and he could not help but wave to them. This instantly caused them to giggle and wave back. Their cheeks turned crimson. They acted as if he was some kind of celebrity, making the young man chuckle slightly with happiness.
Hui Yue, remembering where he was, gave an apologetic smile to the two girls still openly staring at him. He usually would not mind flirting with the two of them but, he knew that classes were about to end, and he could not help but smile. His smile melted the hearts of the girls, and their faces flushed an even deeper crimson than before as they quickly went on their way. It was obvious they were trying to escape from their embarrassment.
Hui Yue was used to behavior like this. He had grown up in a wealthy family, and both of his parents were beautiful people who passed down their genes to their only son.
Hui Yue had eyes as dark as the moonless midnight sky; they seemed to contain as many secrets as the universe itself. Girls would feel as if their souls were exposed to him, and they were attracted to this mysterious feeling.
Those shimmering dark eyes were hidden beneath his slightly messy bangs. Hui Yue’s hair was shoulder length, and he usually tied it up while leaving his bangs hanging; this gave him a slightly mischievous, youthful look. His black hair and dark eyes were in sharp contrast to his pearl white skin and perfect physique. In fact, most men would admit that Hui Yue was a handsome man. Which was the reason most people who saw him instantly took a second glance at him to ensure they had not seen an illusion. His appearance caused both admiration and envy amongst his peers.
Hui Yue was grateful to his parents for his good looks but more than that he appreciated all the resources and possibilities he was given because of them. From a very young age, he could have anything he wished for whether it was games, toys, books, or home tutors. These resources helped Hui Yue achieve his current level of knowledge and understanding.
All in all, Hui Yue was very satisfied with his life, and he had every reason to be with his good looks and education. He stood up and gathered his things before leaving the university for the day. Everyone he met in the corridors greeted him, professors and students alike. Happy for the recognition, Hui Yue smiled back at all of them.
Suddenly he heard footsteps approaching him from behind quickly. Clearly, someone was running; however, before Hui Yue had the chance to turn around two hands landed on his shoulders. The culprit jumped onto his back forcing Hui Yue to give them a piggyback ride.
Nevertheless, Hue Yui was not surprised. Rather, the familiar feeling of two small hands on his shoulders caused Hui Yue to smile contentedly. He turned his head and looked straight at his childhood friend Li Fen.
Seeing Li Fen always aroused a storm within Hui Yue as his feelings for her were doing their very best to burst out. Nevertheless, no matter how fierce those feelings were and how much they raged inside of him, Hui Yue forcefully subdued them. He behaved as if his stormy passion did not exist.
Li Fen was the only person that Hui Yue treated differently. She was his special person; though, only he knew it.
“Hey!” Hui Yue said with a voice filled with joy. This joy was always bubbling within Hui Yue’s chest whenever he saw Li Fen, and when he was able to spend some of his time with her. It was a bubbly feeling which he experienced for the first time more than ten years ago before this day.
They had grown up together as neighbors, gone to the same daycare and kindergarten. Throughout their years together, they had been the best of friends who shared everything with each other.
Well, almost everything. Hui Yue had loved Li Fen for as long as he could remember, but he had never been able to tell her how he felt. He was very well aware that she did not share his feelings.
Hui Yue had no doubt that Li Fen loved him. Unfortunately, her love for him was probably equal to that of a family member, and although it had caused him great pain in the past, it was something which he had overcome. Currently, Li Fen was the happiest Hui Yue had ever seen her. He had no wish to destroy her world by confessing his feelings. Instead, he accepted that his love would stay unrequited forever.
“Will you be training today?” Li Fen asked with a soft voice. She had a relaxed smile on her face making it shine as beautifully as the sun. This caused the bubbling feelings within Hui Yue to increase.
“No, not today.” Hui Yue said gently. He decided to change his focus to the girls who had been watching him with dreamy eyes, imagining they were Li Fen. Those looks always made Hui Yue think of the irony. These girls wished to be the girl by his side, yet the one woman he wanted did not want him.
Hui Yue practiced wushu. He enjoyed barehanded combat and loved working with short range and long range weapons. He enjoyed how training would allow him to focus solely on building up his body and on progressing, and also how it let him take his mind off of the one woman with whom he wished to spend his life with but could not have. Initially, he just sought a way to take his mind off of Li Fen, but gradually he found the feeling of improving his physique step by step immensely satisfying. This caused his typical day to consist of training, studying, and spending time together with Li Fen.
“Going to meet up with Han Xia?” Li Fen asked with a cheeky grin on her face, which caused Hui Yue to sigh deeply. While Hui Yue was busy reminiscing about his emotional struggles all Li Fen worried about was Hui Yue’s girlfriend.
“No.” He said while shaking his head, “She broke up with me a few days ago.” Li Fen looked at Hui Yue’s face and couldn’t hold back a small giggle as the man in question didn’t look the slightest bit sorry. Even after countless girlfriends, Li Fen showed no signs of having noticed Hui Yue’s feelings.
“The usual?” Li Fen asked carelessly with laughter in her voice. She was casually looking at Hui Yue, who nodded.
“They say that there is no point being with me if I am always busy training or studying and that I don’t take care of them,” Hui Yue repeated what his previous girlfriends had said to him so many times before that he now knew it all by heart. Li Fen laughed once again as he did not sound sorry at all; both knew that he had a lot of girls to choose from after all.
The only girl that Hui Yue truly liked was Li Fen, however, if he was not dating anyone and a cute girl confessed to him, he would not hesitate to accept. He was a young man after all and living a life of abstinence was not something he was keen on.
“Well then,” Li Fen said while her smile widened into a grin and she grabbed Hui Yue’s hand. “Come shopping with me before we go back home!” She said while moving towards the city's center before giving Hui Yue the time to answer as she knew he would never say no to anything she asked. He could only laugh helplessly and obediently follow her.
Although Hui Yue might place his girlfriends second to training and studying, Li Fen was in a different league from everything else. He would gladly study less if it meant spending more time with the love of his life.
Hui Yue stood outside a lingerie shop and felt quite uncomfortable as people walked by. Li Fen dragged him here for her first stop in her shopping spree, but as Hui Yue was a man, it was quite inappropriate for him to enter a shop that specialized in female lingerie. It would embarrass other customers that were present along with himself.
Hui Yue sighed and leaned against the wall while quickly killing the jealousy he felt roaring inside of him. He did not mind going shopping with Li Fen, and he would have been quite excited if what she was currently buying was something she would wear while being with him. However, it was obviously to celebrate the anniversary with her current boyfriend and that put Hui Yue in quite a bad mood.
The young man decided to preoccupy himself, rather than allow himself to drown in self-pity so he started to observe the surrounding area for anything that might grab his attention.
As he looked across the street, he noticed an extensive amount of glances that were being thrown his way, though he couldn’t blame them. He was standing outside a lingerie shop with a rather uncomfortable expression on his face after all.
However, as his eyes swept over the area, he noticed an antique store across the road that piqued his interest. His uncomfortable expression instantly vanished as his face lit up. He couldn’t help furrow his brows as he slowly started making his way towards the store that he had never noticed before.
Hui Yue was currently working on his master's in ancient history, and he adored anything that had something to do with the subject. He had studied everything from war and tactics to cooking recipes and architecture from most well-known nations throughout history. Studying these subjects had brought him great joy since his childhood. Even now it was one of the things that was the most enjoyable to him. Hui Yue was confident that he had already visited every antique shop in town, but somehow it seems he had missed this one; he wanted to correct that.
Who knows, he might even be able to find something of interest, so he was fairly excited when he opened the door to the shop and felt the stale air inside.
An elderly lady was sitting behind the counter reading an old book. She sent a long look towards the young man who had just stepped through the door. However, this elderly woman quickly determined that the handsome youth didn’t seem to be a troublemaker, so she returned to reading her book.
As Hui Yue’s eyes swiftly adjusted to the dim lighting that illuminated the shop, his gaze swept past the elderly woman and focused on row after row of intriguing items. Even at first glance Hui Yue felt excitement growing within him; it was as if he was treasure hunting and uncovered a treasure chest full of priceless gems.
The first shelf Hui Yue arrived at was completely filled with vases that ranged in age from as young as five hundred years to as old as three thousand years. Hui Yue was dumbfounded at the manner in which these incredible treasures were displayed.
At first, the young man was sure that these vases were fakes and disdain was evident in his eyes. But something kept bothering him, and after spending some time examining the details, he was pretty sure that they were genuine. Shock quickly replaced his disdain, and Hui Yue felt his heartbeat grow erratic. This also caused his breathing to become slightly irregular. If these vases were really genuine, then what about the rest of the items?
Although Hui Yue adored vases, he had no actual use for them so he slowly moved further into the shop eager to see what he would find next.
As he made his way through the shop, he noticed one treasure after another. A whole shelf was filled with ancient paintings that had been rolled up and stored one on top of another stacked up three layers. Hui Yue felt deeply depressed when he noticed many old texts lying amongst those valuable paintings treated as though they were nothing, even though their value could very well be priceless.
Although the shop looked dodgy and was quite dusty, it was without a doubt a treasure trove. Hui Yue moved deeper into the shop, and each step caused his heartbeat to speed up. Due to this, he felt lightheaded for a moment. The next sight he came across was a stack of armor and weapons which had been dumped on top of each other in a corner.
Hui Yue spent a lot of time looking through the weapons and noticed that some of them bore the marks of master craftsmen, and no doubt had been used by the nobility and generals of ages long past. After staying in the shop for so long, Hui Yue had completely forgotten about Li Fen. He was immersed in his interest of the ancient times, of great heroes and wars.
Although Hui Yue knew he was in a shop, it was very much like he was visiting a museum except here he was allowed actually to touch and examine the treasures. Looking around, Hui Yue was certain that this shop contained, even more, treasures than the actual museums he had visited before.
Hui Yue walked past clothing, emblems, and books to reach the counter where he saw jewelry spread out. The moment he arrived he saw something which caused him to freeze and take a deep breath to mentally steady himself.
In front of him was the most beautiful phoenix crown he had ever seen, an astonishing fengguan. It was far more exquisite than the one that had been found in the tomb of the Wanli Emperor, and Hui Yue had never even heard of such a treasure being found before. This shop was filled with surprises.
The crown was on display in the middle of the counter, and it was, without a doubt, the most stunning head ornament he had seen in the shop so far. The crown was, oddly enough, not locked down or guarded with anything. It just sat there allowing customers to examine it through a mere glass cabinet.
After staring at it for a while, Hui Yue withdrew his gaze from this stunning piece to look at the counter for other intriguing items. A large grin spread across his face as his eyes fell on a box in a corner that had a sign which read ‘anything in this box is ¥600.’
Hui Yue noticed a blue gem that was extraordinarily similar to the one he had seen on the phoenix crown. He immediately went to the box and removed this beautiful item.
It was a hairpin that was unlike anything Hui Yue had ever seen before. It was a blue phoenix pin, and it had a body formed into an oval from an incredibly pure piece of white jade which was framed with golden swirls. Its wings were made from sapphires. Jade, gold, and sapphire swirled around each other creating elaborate patterns, beautiful tail feathers, and a long delicate neck towards a beautiful beak and face. Multiple pearls lined the face of the phoenix near the wing completing the look.
“Oh, you like the Blue Phoenix?” An old voice sounded from the corner. Hui Yue was startled as he had completely forgotten about the elderly lady, but he quickly looked at her with a respectful gaze and noticed a complex expression on her face.
Hui Yue gave a short nod to answer her question before once again looking at the beautiful hairpin. It had to be an exquisite antique, and he had no way of understanding why it would have been tossed into this cheap box. A worrying premonition appeared in his heart as he felt that he liked the hairpin more and more with each passing moment.
“Was it placed in the wrong box?” Hui Yue asked. The worry in his voice was evident as he pointed to the sign that read ‘anything in this box is ¥600.’ He could understand that she might feel cheated to taking such a low price for this masterpiece. This being the case, no matter the price, Hui Yue felt that he needed to own this particular piece of jewelry.
“No, the price is right,” The elderly lady said hesitantly.
Hui Yue frowned upon hearing the old woman's reply but said no more as he waited for an explanation. He was certain that it was from either the Tang or Ming dynasty, and most likely from the same place as the beautiful phoenix crown. How could it possibly be sold for such a low price? For some reason, Hui Yue felt insulted that this crown was so cheap. Insulted as if it was himself that was being considered cheap.
“It is cursed,” The old lady finally said with a sigh. She noticed how obsessed this young man had become after holding the hairpin, even though he only had it for such a short time, “Death will descend upon the owner of this hairpin.”
Hui Yue was about to snort in disbelief, but his upbringing, however, had taught him to never show arrogance in front of others, and he managed to restrain himself. He understood that people would be superstitious when there was a lack of knowledge; although in this day and age something like a curse could not scare him. Especially not since this beautiful hairpin felt as though it was a part of himself; he could already not bear to part with it.
“Young man do not make fun of curses. They are more real than you might imagine,” The elderly lady warned as she stood up and walked towards Hui Yue and the Blue Phoenix hairpin. Although Hui Yue had tried to contain his contempt, the lady easily understood his thoughts; she wished for this man to survive. She did not wish for him to become another target for the Blue Phoenix.
“It arrived in my shop three hundred years ago,” The lady started as she took the hairpin from Hui Yue’s hands and moved behind the counter. “We sold it almost immediately then the owner died three days later having been assaulted by thieves.” Hui Yue kept quiet as he did not believe that thieves could be blamed on the hairpin unless they specifically aimed to steal it.
“The thieves were then killed by relatives of the buyer, and so the hairpin went to his oldest son; however, he died from a lightning strike.” Hui Yue crooked his brows slightly. It was very unlikely for anyone to die from a lightning strike unless they intentionally sought out a location where lightning would hit them. He chose not to believe the story so far as it was more than a hundred years ago, and the story had to have been exaggerated.
“After that,” the old lady continued as she noticed that Hui Yue had doubt in his eyes. “It went from one person to another, and every one of those people died. Eventually, the last owner delivered it back here. We have sold it a few times since then, however, the results have always been the same.”
The elderly lady sighed and hoped that Hui Yue would give up. She did not mind selling the cursed hairpin to wicked people, but after she saw the genuine excitement and admiration he had while looking at the treasures in her store, she wished for him to live a long and prosperous life.
Hui Yue felt her hesitation, and he sent a genuine smile towards the elderly woman. He took the hairpin back into his hands at once while politely saying, “I wish to purchase this hairpin, and I will just have to hope that my luck is stronger than the curse.” His smile left no space for discussion causing the elderly lady to sigh once again as she accepted his money. After all, she had never personally experienced anyone being affected by the curse, so maybe this youth was right, perhaps the curse was just a superstition.
Hui Yue’s mood did not have any trace of his previous jealousy; instead, he was ecstatic as he left the antique shop. He knew that no one would use such a hairpin in this day and age; however, it was incredibly beautiful, and he could think of only one person who could match its beauty. He could not wait to gift it to Li Fen and see her happy expression just thinking about it made him show a silly smile.
“Hui Yue!” A brilliant voice called out to him the moment he stepped back onto the pavement. He noticed that Li Fen had finished her shopping, and she had been waiting for him outside of the lingerie store. As she saw Hui Yue leave the antique shop with something in his hand, Li Fen was overtaken by excitement. She wanted to show Hui Yue what she had purchased as well as see what he had found so without thinking she stepped onto the busy road.
Hui Yue scratched his head slightly as he realized that he had most likely spent more time than expected within the shop, but coming out he felt as though it had been worth it. Li Fen’s happy smile was quickly replaced by an expression of shock when she heard a loud honking. When she instantly looked to the side, she saw a truck heading straight towards her. The driver was doing everything he could to avoid a collision, but Li Fen was like a deer in headlights, frozen by fear and disbelief. Her body refused to move.
The silly smile and happiness which had been bubbling within Hui Yue instantly vanished. Seeing Li Fen frozen and the truck only a few meters away, Hui Yue’s body swiftly moved on its own.
Hui Yue’s heart was filled with the fear that he might not make it in time. Images from their twenty-four years of friendship passed in front of him enhancing his feelings for her.
Hui Yue jumped onto the road and arrived next to Li Fen within a second, and his horrified expression scared Li Fen, but as they were close to each other, the fear quickly subsided from Hui Yue’s face.
All this happened within seconds, and it was only possible for Hui Yue to react swiftly and succeed in his rescue due to the truck having hit the brakes so hard that the entire area was filled with screeching sounds.
He borrowed the power he had gained with his speed and quickly pushed the girl as far back as he could. Li Fen ended up flying two meters back and landed safely on the pavement before she realized what had happened.
Although he pushed her quite hard and she was bound to get some bruises, she would be alive. A relieved smile appeared on Hui Yue’s face just before the truck hit him and sent him flying over ten meters causing him to bounce off the ground a few times.
Hui Yue expected himself to be struck by fear and horror, but the moment he was hit, he felt no fear, only relief that Li Fen was safe. Hui Yue attempted to protect himself and raised his arms before the initial impact, but his eyes widened as he noticed that he was still tightly grasping the Blue Phoenix hairpin. Only now it was shining with an odd, almost mystical, blue light.
As soon as the truck hit him, the impact against his arms caused the hairpin to penetrate his skin going between his ribs to pierce his heart.
Hui Yue felt as if time stood still; then shock filled his eyes as he had a sudden whimsical thought. Would he die because of the truck or was it because of the hairpin? Suddenly, while looking at the hairpin, he noticed that it disappeared and turned into blue flames that gathered just outside of his chest.
Hui Yue was shocked when he noticed he could sense everything that was happening to him, and it all appeared to happen in slow motion. Fortunately, either the impact from the truck or the stabbing hairpin must have killed him instantly because he felt no pain from his injuries that he was observing.
Hui Yue diverted his attention from his wounds to the unusual fireball which was currently hovering above his heart, and a shocking sight met him. Not only was the fireball hovering above his heart, but it had also begun to absorb his blood. Hui Yue was completely unable to comprehend what was happening to him. A chill ran through his already dead body while his mind filled with fear from this unknown phenomenon which was occurring to him.
Shortly after, he felt his consciousness move from his beaten body into the ball of blue fire that was rapidly growing. This caused panic to spread throughout Hui Yue’s mind. A futile struggle began, and in spite of how hard Hui Yue tried, it was impossible for him to resist the suction force coming from the fireball.
As Hui Yue entered the fireball he was able to look down at his old body and notice how people were rushing towards him; however, due to the powerful impact, there wasn’t any sign of life. Hui Yue was completely broken, and anyone would have a hard time recognizing his body.
Hui Yue himself was fully aware that his soul had departed his body, but he still felt an urge to linger around longer. He did not feel as if he was ready to depart yet. Hui Yue had a deep lingering regret whenever he thought about how he would never see Li Fen again. To know that her smile would be lost to him forever. At least she was with him during his dying moments.
Profound sadness appeared in his heart as the image of his parents flashed before him. He could not help but be saddened when he thought of his parents who had given him everything he could ever wish for; however, now, as he was dead, he wouldn’t even have the chance to say goodbye.
Hui Yue looked at Li Fen, who was crying while touching his bloody corpse trying to convince herself that he was still alive, that there was still a possibility of saving him. This caused a wave of sadness to flood Hui Yue’s heart.
He had never wanted to make Li Fen feel this pain, and he knew that his parents were going to be as heartbroken as she was, but, even so, he was certain he made the right choice.
Hui Yue was not selfless, nor was he a charitable person, however, there were three people in this world that Hui Yue would give his life to save. Li Fen happened to be one of those people, so Hui Yue had no regrets.
To save the woman he loved by sacrificing his own life was the right choice, but death was still a frightening thing.
“Live well,” Hui Yue whispered towards the crying Li Fen before he attempted to mentally brace himself for his soul to perish as he knew it should. However, instead of death, Hui Yue heard a mocking voice from within the blue fire which said, “what a sappy love story.”