Author’s Note: The summer and autumn story both turned out to be quite a bit longer than the spring one so I finally decided to split them into parts. I’ll try to post one a week now and just go through them as if this was another regular project. So … onto some more summer fun!
The calm in the palace did not last for long. With Bao Feng Yu’s movement suddenly missing, Yang Guang drowsily opened his eyes and realized that they had already reached the bed. He turned in his lover’s arms and hugged his waist, smiling faintly.
Even though it was dark and there wasn’t much light falling into the room, he could still see his face and he took a moment to admire Bao Feng Yu’s handsome features. It was hard to believe but it had already been seven years. In fact, tomorrow, it would be precisely the day on which they had met all those years ago.
At that time, it had been the height of summer. Whether it was the mortal or immortal realms, the sun had been shining brightly, the breeze caressing one’s skin and enveloping everything in warmth, only bringing a hint of coolness every now and then.
This was Yang Guang’s favorite time of the year, the time when he felt the most at ease. But still, he couldn’t help but feel that life in the immortal realms was a little boring. Each year, most of the gods would just go and hide away in their palaces, trying to escape the heat. And he who actually liked this time would be left to wander the streets alone with no one to accompany him and share in this joy with him.
He had heard of how the mortals would celebrate these days and he hadn’t been able to help but feel a longing toward taking part in those festivities. With every year, that wish grew stronger and finally, he just couldn’t resist anymore.
On that day, the Jade Emperor had called the gods together for a meeting, discussing the most important matters of the immortal realms which everyone listened to while quietly grumbling about the heat. Finally, the meeting ended and the other gods rushed away as if the courtyard had caught on fire. On the other hand, Yang Guang stepped forward, clearly not intending to leave.
The Jade Emperor looked at him with some surprise. For Yang Guang, it wasn’t his usual behavior to stand out. He was the type of person who would stand at the side, watching the proceedings and maybe nodding or shaking his head when it was appropriate for him to give his opinion. But he had never stood out. He had never approached the Jade Emperor for anything. So suddenly seeing him step forward, the ruler of the immortal realms felt quite intrigued.
He smiled and waved for him to come a little closer. “God of the sun, what might be the matter?”
Stepping out had been a decision made in the spur of the moment. Now, that Yang Guang was in the situation though, he wondered how to make his wishes clear. Hesitating for a moment, he finally motioned at himself and then at the ground below.
Unfortunately, the Jade Emperor didn’t know him that well and couldn’t guess just what it was that he wanted. He slightly crinkled his brows, clearly not even close to guessing what it might be that he wanted. “You …”
Yang Guang felt helpless in return. He had been born without a voice so contrary to the others, he couldn’t just speak his mind. Usually, when it concerned his task, he was still able to show what he meant but if it was something that was so outside of his usual behavior, then it was hard for him to find a way to make others understand. It didn’t help that he didn’t know the Jade Emperor too well.
The two of them stared at each other in awkward silence before Yang Guang finally managed to come up with another idea. He showed his palm and then tried to indicate a walking person with the fingers of his other hand.
The Jade Emperor watched with his brows still furrowed, his thoughts churning. “You … want to go somewhere?” This was not something that he expected but it seemed to be the only possible explanation.
Yang Guang nodded wildly, ecstatic that this time, they were getting close to the meaning he wanted to convey. He hurriedly motioned at the ground again, his eyes hopeful.
“Down?” The Jade Emperor’s brows continued to furrow and maybe even drew together further. He still couldn’t quite grasp what exactly Yang Guang wanted. Going down … He had a faint guess but he felt that it couldn’t be.
While he pondered, the Empress that was sitting at his side glanced over. “Could it be that the sun god wants to go down to the mortal realm?”
The Jade Emperor had already wanted to say that this definitely couldn’t be but Yang Guang already nodded his head.
The Jade Emperor raised his brows. “To the mortal realm? But …” If it was any of the other gods, he wouldn’t be worried. But when it came to Yang Guang … He couldn’t help but feel that the idea might not be that good.
In any case, he was mute. Among the gods, everyone should be able to recognize him. They would treat him courteously and if he got into danger, there would be somebody around to help. Also, he still had his magical abilities here.
But if he truly wanted to descend to the mortal realm for more than an hour or so, then his abilities would have to be sealed or a disaster might happen. But in that case, Yang Guang would not only be mute but also defenseless. Was that something that he could let happen? He didn’t think so.
The Jade Emperor wanted to deny this request but seeing Yang Guang’s hopeful expression, he also couldn’t bring himself to do so. Even though he didn’t know him well, among the younger generation, the Jade Emperor actually had a soft spot for this god of the sun.
Maybe it was because he felt that he was quite pitiful for not being able to speak. Yang Guang was good-looking and also had a good grasp on his magic, he was courteous and refined, somebody that was pleasant to spend time with. In short: He was perfect no matter how you looked at it but he just had to have this one fault. And it wasn’t that anything could be done about that.
So somehow, the Jade Emperor had always felt that he should make it up to him. If there was a request, he would definitely grant it when it came from Yang Guang. So even though he had some reservations, he finally nodded. “Well if that is what the sun god wants, then I will not say no. Come here. I will seal your abilities.”
Yang Guang smiled brightly and rushed forward, kneeling down in front of the Jade Emperor.
The man gave him a look and then reached out, gently touching his forehead. Yang Guang closed his eyes and then, he already felt the magic of the Jade Emperor invade his body and seal his own abilities into his soul.
Now, he was not much more than a mortal. Well, he still had his immortal body and some of the simplest abilities were retained so that he could make sure that he wouldn’t stand out too much in the mortal realm and would also be able to come back here with ease.
Yang Guang wasn’t worried about this. In the worst case, he could still break through the seal to regain his abilities. Even though he would have to pay a price for that. But he did not intend to do so anyway. He just wanted to go down there and join in the fun for a while. Nothing else. That shouldn’t be asking too much, right? What could happen to him while doing that?
Seeing his smile, the Jade Emperor felt that he had done the right thing. He patted his shoulder and then motioned forward. “You go then. Make sure that you come back soon and take care of yourself while you are down there. Always keep your safety in mind and don’t linger needlessly if you feel any danger.”
Yang Guang nodded and got up, immediately rushing over to the nearest portal to go down to the mortal realm.
The Jade Emperor watched him leave, concern written in his features. He still couldn’t help but worry about what might happen to him. Even though he had warned him just now, Yang Guang had seemed quite unconcerned. Would he really take it seriously?
The Empress took a look at her husband and then glanced in Yang Guang’s direction. “If you’re so worried about him, then send somebody along. In any case, he isn’t going to meet up with a secret lover there. So it’s not like another person coming along would disturb him.”
The Jade Emperor nodded, feeling that what his wife said was right. He hadn’t bothered to try and inquire what Yang Guang wanted to do down there considering that it had been difficult enough to guess his original intent, but it certainly shouldn’t be something where one more person but be a problem.
Thinking of that, he waved at one of the servants. “Bring the god of storms here. I have a mission for him. Don’t delay.” In any case, they didn’t know where Yang Guang wanted to go. Right now, they could still guess which portal he had gone through but Bao Feng Yu had to catch up to Yang Guang soon or he would lose him.
When Bao Feng Yu heard that the Jade Emperor wanted to see him, he naturally didn’t dare to be slow. He hurriedly put down the book he had been reading, and then rushed outside, blinking against the blinding sunlight and making his way over as fast as he could. When he arrived, the Jade Emperor looked slightly uneasy, making Bao Feng Yu’s heart jump. Who knew what happened? But it definitely seemed to be something grave so he didn’t dare to lose time.
He stepped in front of the Jade Emperor and cupped his fists. “Greetings. Your Majesty asked to see me?”
The Jade Emperor nodded. “Yes, I hope I didn’t disturb the god of storms while doing anything important. The matter is like this: One of the gods just descended to the mortal realm and I can’t help but be worried. His abilities have been sealed as is necessary but he isn’t very strong otherwise. I’m afraid that down there, he will be defenseless. So I would like to ask the god of storms to follow him. You don’t have to do anything, just stay close by and make sure that he won’t run into trouble. I wouldn’t want him to come to harm while he is down there.”
Bao Feng Yu was startled. This kind of request was certainly not difficult for him to do but it was odd nonetheless. “That god is …?” He couldn’t think of a single one that was weak enough to warrant this.
“The sun god, Yang Guang.”
Bao Feng Yu nodded but, to be honest, he didn’t know that person. The spirit realm of the immortals was big and while there weren’t as many gods as there were mortals there were still a couple hundred or maybe a thousand at least. So even among the gods, not everyone would know everyone.
But still, it couldn’t be that difficult to recognize another god. Even with their abilities sealed, there was usually something special about them. Thus, he didn’t worry too much. “Then I’ll go and take care of this matter.” He inclined his head and then stepped closer, also kneeling down to have his abilities sealed.
He didn’t like to do this and would usually not go to the mortal realm just because of this reason but since it would take some time to find Yang Guang and he might also need to accompany him for some time, he couldn’t get around it this time.
The Jade Emperor didn’t lose any time, hurriedly sealing his abilities. “The storm god should better make haste. It took a moment to notify you and we aren’t sure where he went.”
Bao Feng Yu got up and nodded again. “The portal he took …?”
The Jade Emperor indicated the way with his hand, his expression betraying his anxiety. Bao Feng Yu merely inclined his head again and then turned, heading in that direction. He stepped through the portal without hesitation and already arrived in the mortal world.
Bao Feng Yu first looked around to get a feeling for this place and hopefully find some traces: This place was a meadow, encircled by a few rows of trees further in the distance. From somewhere, the faint tinkling of water sounded as if there was a creek running by. Unfortunately, Bao Feng Yu couldn’t spot anyone. Most likely, that Yang Guang had already left here. Now, the question was where he might’ve gone.
Bao Feng Yu sighed, feeling that if they wanted him to help out like this, they might as well have told him before that person left. Then, he could’ve accompanied him from the very beginning and wouldn’t have needed to waste time on finding him first. But, there was nothing that could be done about this. Thus, he just closed his eyes, listening for the wind to carry more sounds to him.
Unfortunately, the clues he finally received weren’t many either: Just as he had thought, there was nobody on the meadow and even in the small grove to the side, there wasn’t any god or spirit but only animals. So Yang Guang wasn’t close anymore. Thankfully, there were sounds of excitement coming from the distance as if there was a settlement of the humans and something big was going on.
The god of storms opened his eyes and then rushed over there, feeling that the sun god should’ve gone there. In any case, most gods that descended to the mortal realm did so to mingle among the humans. Certainly, Yang Guang should not be an exception.
When he arrived, he realized that while there was a town ahead, there seemed to be much more people than this place should be able to hold. He stopped in his tracks and observed for a while, wanting to make sure that he did not make a wrong move. The appearance of a spirit — even if that spirit was a god — could cause panic among mortals. He had heard of that much too often.
Finally, Bao Feng Yu realized that the people of the surrounding villages should have gathered in this town for some kind of festival: The place had been decorated festively with brightly-colored flags tied to the eaves of the houses, to the stalls of the vendors that had been haphazardly erected around the streets and the wide-open field outside, as well as to some of the costumes the people themselves wore.
Bao Feng Yu glanced at his own dark gray robe and felt that he didn’t quite fit in. That would make it easier for Yang Guang to realize that he was a god as well but it might also draw the suspicions of the humans. That wasn’t what he wanted.
He made sure that nobody was looking and then hastily changed his appearance with a spell. Even though his abilities were sealed, he still had this bit of power at least. Anything more and he would have to break the seal though.
Having made sure that he wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb, Bao Feng Yu stepped back into the line of sight of the people and then started to search for the god of the sun. With all these people around, it wouldn’t be easy to find just one among them. And it certainly didn’t help that he had never met Yang Guang before. Now, he could only rely on his intuition and hope that he would have a bit of luck.
He looked around, trying to see if he could spot somebody that stood out in some way. Not that he held much hope that that would be the case. If he was able to figure out that he was too noticeable among these people because of the way he was dressed and changed his appearance to fix the issue, then Yang Guang had certainly done the same. Thus, that kind of thing would probably not give him any hints. He could only hope that he would be able to figure this out just based on the other person’s bearing.
In terms of that, there were a few people that caught his eye: Among the crowd, there were the normal citizens who were living here and a whole bunch of vendors as if the whole country had come together to celebrate this festival, but the ones who stood out were the ones who seemed to belong to neither of those groups. No, the ones who really made an impression were the men and women that seemed to take part in the contests that had been set up around the city.
Some of them walked past him with a bow slung over their shoulder, talking boisterously about how they had just done or how they imagined things to go when it was their turn next. He also saw some people wrestling in an enclosure that had been prepared just outside the city, and there was some kind of path marked that seemed to be intended for horse racing even though he couldn’t see any of the riders yet.
Bao Feng Yu stopped next to all these places, taking a look around. To be honest, he didn’t think that any of these people should be Yang Guang. After all, if he lacked so much strength after his powers were sealed that the Jade Emperor had to send somebody after him to guard him, then he shouldn’t be able to take part in any of this. He would probably have a better chance to find him if looked at the other entertainment that had been prepared.
Bao Feng Yu decisively turned around and instead went to take a look at one of the squares where a performance troupe had set up, showing some kind of ancient story with brightly colored costumes. He glanced over the people that were singing and dancing on the stage but felt like it shouldn’t be them either so he turned away after that mere glance and instead took a closer look at the audience in front.
There were quite a few people gathered but most of them were parents with their children or older siblings with their younger ones. There were also some old people that seemed to be reveling in their memories, laughing and clapping along with the songs that they remembered best.
Bao Feng Yu faintly furrowed his brows and turned away, trying to see if maybe Yang Guang was instead among the people that were rushing through the town, taking a look at everything for a little bit before he continued on. After all, if he wasn’t somebody who regularly went down here, Yang Guang might just be interested in seeing a bit of everything.
Bao Feng Yu started to follow the crowd, looking at the people that stood in front of the stalls of the vendors, then went to listen to that grandmother who was telling a story from her youth about one of the most gifted archers of their people and then continued on to where a group of people had gathered to sit down and eat some of the food that was being prepared close by.
By now, Bao Feng Yu’s brows were tightly furrowed. He had no idea where Yang Guang might be. And with each minute that passed by, it was even more unlikely that he would be able to find him. After all, if he wasn’t in the city, then he would get further away. And then how was he supposed to find out just where had he had gone?
Bao Feng Yu raked a hand through his hair, and turned around himself, trying to see if there was anybody else he hadn’t had a look at yet. To be honest, he didn’t feel like that was the case. He had already wandered through the whole city once and should have passed by any of these people already.
When he turned, he couldn’t help but notice that a few musicians had set up in the corner of the square. They were playing some tunes while the people around them had started dancing.
Among the group, there was a young man in a white robe. His clothes seemed a little lackluster between all the brightly colored ones that the others wore and with the lighter hair color, he also stuck out a little. Still, he was dancing quite beautifully. The skirt of his robe was swinging in a wide circle, the wide sleeves creating dancing shadows around him, and the smile on his lips was infectious.
The man turned and then seemed to perceive Bao Feng Yu’s gaze, his movements slowing a little and his gaze surprised before he smiled brighter.
The god of storms was startled and finally realized that he had been staring, unable to take his gaze away. He cleared his throat and hurriedly looked away but then couldn’t help but take another peek. He knew he had to go and find Yang Guang but he didn’t even know where to go. And right now, staying here didn’t seem too bad.
He pondered for a moment but then slowly made his way over, waiting close by.