Chapter 1- Emperor Mao’s Palace
A thousand years ago in ancient Beijing, China, two princesses lived a good life in a dazzling castle. What they didn’t know was that their lives were going to get even better.
“Your father would like to see you, princesses.” the maid said as she bowed and stepped into the princesses room. The room was lit with all the sunlight that was coming though the two huge windows. The pure sunlight make the golden floor look like golden glitter.
“Thank you, tell him we will be there in five minutes.” replied Hong Qiao, the youngest of the two.
Five minutes later, Hong Qiao and her older sister were standing in front of their father, Emperor Mao, Emperor of China.
In front of Emperor Mao stood his two beautiful daughters: His 16 year old daughter Hong Qiao with her silky dark brown hair hanging loose down her back, her attractive big dark brown eyes and charming white-tooth smile. Cho, his eldest daughter (18 years old), had a black bob of hair she wore loose all the time, her tall and sophisticated figure and her cheery closes mouth smile.
“I have called you in front of me to discuss a very important and serious matter, who you shall marry.” Emperor Mao explained.
A deep groan came from Hong Qiao and a long and loud sigh came from Cho. They loved their carefree lives where they could play and work, but not the duty of looking after a husband.
“I will hold a competition to see who is worthy to be your husband. We want someone who can protect you, but has kindness in their heart.”
Both girls sighed deeply. Their father was stubborn, so there no point arguing. Whenever their father thought of something he called a ‘good idea’ he would not give in to anything or anyone. After a bit of whispering, both girls decided to have fun with the planning and not be grumpy though out the whole competition.
And so, the three of them put their heads together and planned.
Chapter 2- Yang Qing
The next day, an 18-year-old boy, named Yang Qing, while walking past courtyards in Beijing spotted the posters the two princesses had put up. He hurried home to his mother. He found his mother sitting on the small bed he shared with her.
“Mother there is a competition to see who can marry the princesses, please may I enter…” Yang Qing said as fast as he could.
Yang Qing knew his mother would say no. His father was at war, so he was the only man in the house. He begged and pleaded for five more minutes and his mother finally gave in.
Just as Yang Qing was hurrying out the door, his mother cried, “Be careful my darling, I love you!”
Chapter 3- The Three Young Men
Two other 18-year-old boys, Kang and Chang, were also going to enter the competition. These two boys were from noble families unlike Yang Qing.
The three boys walked into the antique throne room where they saw Emperor Mao perched on top of his throne, and his two daughters standing next to him.
All three boys were gazing dreamily at the two girls. They all thought that they were the prettiest girls in the whole of China; they had to win the competition.
Emperor Mao smiled to himself: “These three boys were handsome but were their hearts filled with kindness?”
Of course, Hong Qiao and Cho knew the plans for the competition and they were thinking exactly the same thing their father was thinking.
Emperor Mao declared, “You three will set out tomorrow to go to war just outside Beijing. You will lead an army troop to war and if you win the battle you will get to marry my daughter Cho. If you also win you can marry my other daughter Hong Qiao. Now, do not worry, if you don’t win the battle it does not matter. Beijing will not be taken over.
Just as Emperor Mao was talking, Hong Qiao was staring at Yang Qing, she had fallen in love with him!
Chapter 4- Along the Road
The next day the three boys set off on horseback. It would take 3 weeks to get to the place the war was. Just as Yang Qing set off he saw a sobbing little boy who cried out that he had just lost his mother. Yang Qing asked if two other boys had come by and if they helped him. The little boy explained through sobs that they did come by, but only one of them had stopped to ask what was wrong, but only said that he would find his mother. The other boy just galloped off on his horse.
Yang Qing asked, “Where did you last see your mother?”
“A…at the mar…rket! She was buy…ying veg…egta..ables.” the boy managed to say while still sobbing.
“Shh…it’s okay, I’ll help you find her, let’s go to the market then.” Yang Qing whispered while trying to comfort the little boy.
A few minutes later, Yang Qing and the boy were at the market. Suddenly, the boy cried out, “Mother!” Soon they were embracing each other.
The little boy’s mother thanked Yang Qing with all her heart and asked whether she could help him or not. Kang and Chang had enough money to stay in a good inn, but as Yang Qing was poor so he had barely any money. So he asked whether or not he could stay at the little boy’s house. The little boy’s mother agreed almost immediately.
The little boy’s house was small but comfortable. Soon after a delicious dinner, Yang Qing fell asleep on the comfortable straw bed.
The next day, Yang Qing set off bright and early. He thanked the boy’s mother for five minutes then finally left.
Chapter 5- Still Along the Road
After two weeks and six days of traveling, Yang Qing had scarcely any money left.
Just as he was passing through the last village, he saw an old lady. Her clothes were torn, she slept on a blanket on the side of the road when there was no money to stay at an inn and she was barefooted.
As Yang Qing passed her, she was begging for money. He stopped, got off his horse and without thinking twice gave her the rest of his money.
He started to gallop off on his horse, when the old lady called him back.
The old lady sobbed, “I cannot take this much money! Thank you so much! I’ll pay for your room! I’ll do some jobs so you can have free dinner!”
“The man is full of kindness I swear he gave me all his money.” She whispered quietly to herself.
Overwhelmed, Yang Qing followed the beggar lady into the inn.
The next day, after a good nutritious breakfast, Yang Qing set off again. Soon enough, he came across some tents.
He had reached the final destination: He was at the Chinese military base.
Chapter 6 - The Battle
As Yang Qing strode down to the tents, he wanted to look confident but really he was feeling unsure about leading the army. Then he spotted a familiar face.
"Father!" Yang Qing yelled at the top of his voice.
"Yang Qing?!" His father yelled back.
Before any one could stop them they were on the ground crying on each others shoulders.
Quickly as anything, someone shouted, "The enemy is invading! Yang Qing must lead us into battle!"
His father looked at him puzzled, "Why are you leading us into battle? If you just come in the army, you are a sol...." The noise drowned Yang Qing's father's voice.
Yang Qing shouted over the noise, "I will explain later!"
Suddenly, the enemy was shooting sharp arrows from all directions. The chinese had huge cannons, they set them off. The battle had begun.
Yang Qing was riding a brown horse and fighting with a silver sword. He was stabbing people with his sword, cutting things in two as he rode by and then he came face to face with the enemy's leader. They jabbed at each other with their swords, ducked and blocked each other’s jabs. Yang Qing all of sudden saw the enemy's leaders weak spot. He had weak armor on his chest. Out of the blue, Yang Qing took out his sword and....
"Wait," Yang Qing thought, " Look at the look on his face it looks frightened. Why should I kill the leader? Just because he's the leader of China's enemy, he might be the leader, but maybe he doesn't want to be the leader. I should show him mercy."
So Yang Qing left him to fight with someone else.
Just as he was fighting with a very skilled swordsman, out of the corner of his eye he saw an explosion, people lying dead on the ground, more sharp arrows and one of the arrows was heading straight towards his fathers back!
Yang Qing jumped off his horse and screamed, "No!" And ran for his life, then flung himself in front of his father and the arrow, instead of hitting his fathers back, hit Yang Qing on the top of his left arm.
That was all he remembered.
Chapter 7- Back at the Palace
Apparently, Yang Qing had hit his head hard on the ground.
He woke up at the palace. This is how he got there: straight after he fell onto the ground, someone heaved him into a carriage and brought him to the doctor. By that time he woke up, but since he hit his head hard on the ground he had concussion.
The doctor then gave him a lot of wine so he would get drunk and slowly fall asleep. Then the doctor fixed his arm. He then rode back to Beijing on a horse, but since he still had concussion (they couldn’t cure it in that time), he couldn’t remember anything.
The Emperor had asked all three boys to come to the palace for one night and so Yang Qing was sent to the palace. Emperor Mao sent for the three boys after breakfast. They came to the throne room and once again Hong Qiao didn’t take her eyes of Yang Qing.
Emperor Mao hadn’t told his daughters who they were going to marry and Hong Qiao hoped with all her heart that Yang Qing was to be her husband.
“Yang Qing will marry my eldest daughter, Cho!” Emperor Mao boomed.
Cho blushed, there was an uproar coming from the directions of Kang and Chang and Hong Qiao and even more surprisingly, Yang Qing.
“Be quiet! I will answer your questions in a minute. But let me explain: even though Yang Qing lost his battle, he lost the battle because he tried to save someone he loved. He showed kindness to one-and-all. So he may marry Cho. Any questions?” Emperor Mao explained.
Everyone was silent, you could have heard a pin drop.
Emperor Mao continued, “Chang will marry Hong Qiao!”
Hong Qiao looked at Chang and smiled thinking, “He looks handsome, I’m sure I will get used to him.”
“You may go now Kang.” Emperor Mao whispered in Kang’s ear.
Kang stormed out the door fuming. “Why shouldn’t I get to marry one of the princesses? I won my battle unlike Yang Qing,” he thought.
Soon enough both couples were talking nineteen-to-the-dozen. Slowly, Hong Qiao realized that (while half listening to Cho and Yang Qing’s conversation) that Yang Qing and herself had nothing in common, whereas Chang and herself had a lot of things in common. “Oh yes,” Hong Qiao thought, “I am going to love Chang!”
Chapter 8- The Wedding Banquet
That evening, the two couples sent letters to the authorities to ask for permission to be married. The authorities came back at once to say that the two couples may get married at once. When both couples heard this news they hugged, kissed and shouted. They were so loud that Emperor Mao heard them from the other side of the palace and laughed.
“Well, I take that as a ‘yes’ from the authorities.” Emperor Mao thought.
Now came the business of planning the wedding banquet. They chose the time, the place, the invitation, the guests, the tablecloths, napkins, cutlery… and much more.
Finally, the day arrived; both couples were jittery and excited.
Slowly, the evening came. Everyone they invited came. They all had grins from ear-to-ear. The whole party sat down to eat the 12-course dinner. After each course was finished, everyone stood up and yelled, “Cheers!” And the two princesses kissed their new husbands.