Title: A Tragic Tale of a Tree: Your Highness, Trees Have Feelings Too
Genre: Tragic, Romance
~ Your highness, I wish I was born a human ~
I am a poinsettia tree planted by the king of these lands, the Noble Emperor Yun of the Al Clan. He planted me in front of the fish pond in his majestic courtyard. I can't recall when did I gain consciousness, but I can still clearly remember the sensation of my first breath which stimulated my whole being- from each single leaf to the farthest roots underground.
His prominence the Emperor Yun was the first human I saw and talked with. He always strolled around his courtyard every midday and sat on my shadows when he got tired.
I have never seen any human aside from His prominence at that time, but I can tell he's the most beautiful of them all. He always wore exquisite garments made from the finest materials. His long jet black hair was darker than the soil I am bedded in, his skin was fairer than the clouds up in the heavens and his eyes, those beautiful orbs of jade- his eyes always sparkled with tranquillity, even calmer than the ambiance I feel whenever a gentle breeze passes by my leaves and twigs.
Of all the things I was able to see in this vast courtyard, his highness the Emperor Yun was the most pleasing to look at. Even the emotionless stone sprites never ceased to feast their eyes on the beautiful guise of His prominence.
Every day was like paradise to me. As long as I am able to see His highness the Emperor Yun, I am satisfied and there was nothing else I could ask for. The Emperor laughed at my shallow contentment.
"Ming, you are still young," His prominence continued chuckling as he made himself comfortable beside me, on my shade. He named me Ming, because he thought I'm bright and I always looked forward on every tomorrow. In truth, I just always looked forward to seeing him every day.
"When you get older, your spirit will emerge from your physical form and you can finally roam the royal palace. You will want more than just seeing this king," His prominence said, patting me.
"Your highness, that is absurd," my voice echoed throughout the courtyard like a force trapped within a box, my leaves trembled. This is because my spirit was still cultivating inside my physical form- this tree. I'm not much of a fan of it. I want a voice like His prominence's, fluid and serene. I know that's not possible though, I'm not even a human.
"This tree is always grateful to you for bringing me to this world," I added, more echoes reverberated throughout the area. "If only…"
I could feel some sort of feeling building up inside of me. I breathed out an air of uncertainty from my leaves. I asked myself, Should I say it? Will he think that I'm a selfish tree? Won't he get mad at me?
"If only what?" His prominence asked. He looked up smiling as if he already knows what I'm going to say. His eyes coaxing me to say whatever is on my mind.
"If only I was born a human…" I started. "I would be able to follow you everywhere and just serve you as your loyal servant would! In that way I can only repay you."
The spirits and sprites altogether gazed at my flowers and leaves. They silently sighed. All of us wished we were humans, not just essences of objects- bound to live forever unless broken. However, no one is able to say this out loud easily. We are all too grateful to His prominence to even think about selfish ideas. We are all bound in his palace after all.
"Ming," His prominence called. He stood up and placed his palm on my trunk. "This king created you because I am a lonely man. I lost my betrothed in the silent war between the leading clans. I want you to console me for as long as I live."
I was simply delighted as His prominence asked me to console him, but I can't also help but be sorrowful about his betrothed who was a victim of the bloody competition between the powerful clans in the country. However, His prominence is still the Noble Emperor and even I, a mere tree knows how big of a responsibility it is. An Emperor should not show weakness to his enemies as well as to his people.
"Yes your highness Emperor Yun," I replied with sincerity.
Years have passed. I have witnessed the ever so kind Emperor Yun marry to a lady of a prestigious family whom he didn't love. Five royal children were brought about, all were kind and righteous as their father. The whole kingdom was happy for the royal family.
In all those time, His prominence did not forget me. He continued to visit me every midday, until he aged to the point where he can't go out from his quarters anymore. The palace became occupied with more human servants and soldiers. The Emperor's courtyard that was normally off-limits became strictly guarded by doctors and guards.
My whole being yearned for him. I wanted to see him, but I'm still a young tree. I don't know why my spirit can't emerge from my physical form yet. I asked myself, isn't eighty decades enough? My Emperor needs me!
The fishes in the pond swam to my direction when they heard me start to weep. My leaves produced tiny dewdrops, but they landed blaringly onto the earth. I am more than a hundred years old tree so I possess countless leaves and flowers.
"Ming, we want to help you," little Koi said. "Your tears are disrupting the courtyard, the pond will overflow any minute now! It's like the courtyard is in the middle of the storm, how can a tree cry so much like this?"
"Can you help my spirit get out of this tree?" I sniffed as I asked the fishes, my pitiful voice echoed throughout the courtyard. "I want to see his highness!"
"Calm down little Ming," Elder Uranda consoled me, flapping her fins as fast as she can so she won't be blown away by the storm. She is the oldest of His prominence's spirit subjects aging about more than five hundred years.
"Elder, what should I do? The Emperor is dying and I'm still trapped inside this tree."
"You are not trapped in that tree, that tree is you. You should not forget that, Ming. His highness the Emperor told me that your spirit will be allowed freedom once he's near death. The dusk before the night he dies, to be specific."
As if the Goddess of Fate was drunk and had the vibe to play around with a certain tree's feelings, I felt my essence being pulled out in that instance. I screamed in pain as extreme heat pierced my whole being.
I knelt on my shade, still numb from the pain. I raised my hand, looking at it, I found myself in shock. I'm free now!
The spirits and sprites altogether were also shocked. This was too soon! The Emperor is going to die tonight! Not wasting any second, I flew into His prominence's quarters and found him being treated by a physician, the rest of the royal family sitting on the other side.
I rushed to His prominence's side and pushed the doctor aside. I may have pushed him a little too hard for he flew out of the quarters, landing painfully on the ground. Gasps and screams were heard.
"Ming," I was about to help the doctor get back on his feet but His prominence the Emperor grabbed my translucent wrist.
"Your highness!" I started to sob and hugged his prominence's arm. "I finally got out from my physical form, but I can't even spend more time with you!"
The Emperor placed his other hand on my head and tried to smile. "Ming, I'm sorry I wasn't able to save you. I let you die in the hands of my own clansmen." His weary and wrinkled hands slowly caressed my face.
Why is his highness apologizing? Could it be…?
"Physician! The Emperor is talking to some invisible person!" a woman yelled, hiding behind her sons' backs. That's right, humans without or weak spiritual energy can't see spirits.
"I can see a spirit next to him, I believe it's the one who threw the physician away!" a prince guessed. "Is it the God of Death? Has it come to take father away?"
I was too distracted by the royal family. I was scared, his sons can sense me, now what should I do? I was panicking too much and still numb from the pain, I did not notice that his prominence has stopped breathing.
The greatest emperor this kingdom ever had- is dead.
My beloved master…
I continued to cry for days, weeks and months. The royal palace became water-logged and every human was forced to leave it, including the royal family. The spirits and sprites climbed my tree to avoid drowning. The fishes yelled and cursed at me for ruining the pond.
I was continuously in shock even more when I heard from the older spirits themselves that I am actually the reincarnation of His prominence's betrothed. I was his childhood sweetheart from the Li clan which was his clan's enemy. I was but a child not even older than ten when His prominence's father killed me for being a Li. He buried me beside a fishpond.
Al Yun, being a child prodigy when it came to spiritual energies, begged to the heavens and sowed a poinsettia plant where I was buried. Slowly I grew up to be a majestic tree, but His prominence wasn't contented. He once again asked the Gods to give me consciousness so I could talk to him.
The generous Gods granted his wish despite the fact that objects can only gain consciousness and spiritual bodies once they are hundreds of years old. In return, however, was that I will only gain my spiritual freedom when he dies and His prominence will never be given the right to reincarnate anymore.
I asked the gods to let the emperor reincarnate, I begged so hard but they won't ever listen to me. They dislike me, being the reason why a great man can never set foot on the universe again.
I felt terrible and cried for straight four months until all moisture from my physical body was drained. Every spirit and sprite rejoiced and tried their bests to comfort me. I am forever in their debt.
The whole palace was watered out, caretakers came and cleaned the palace. It was from them I heard that the royal family travelled out to a place they call Capital where they are now residing in.
Generations have passed and this palace became a villa, a vacation place for the royal family. However no one has been able to last for a week simply because it's being haunted by my family, no other than the Noble Emperor Yun's spirit subjects.
I wonder what happened to the royal family. I wonder if His prominence's sons became like him, kind, beautiful and caring.
But no matter how similar they might be to the great Emperor, still, no one can replace His prominence in my heart.
So here we are, another update to this compilation! I would just like to disclaim this story since yours truly didn’t write this but a close relative. This one-shot was only the prologue of the story, though I don’t know if the writer will still continue this, so I just posted it so that it can see the light of the day(and so that I will have something to update).
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