Yu Wenzhou had always known that dragon’s were spiteful beings. He thought that way ever since finding out as a child that one of his family members had been stolen by dragons. These despicable beings had no concerns about tearing families apart. In Yu Wenzhou’s eyes, dragons were selfish and shameless, giving absolutely zero fucks about the mortals.
Yu Wenzhou knew it all.
Well, he had thought he had known it all.
Yet on his wedding day when he met his first dragon, the one that just so happened to be the most shameless one of them all, Yu Wenzhou was powerless. According to common belief, being born with two tails was said to be a sign of ancestral blessing, however on that fateful day Yu Wenzhou convinced himself that his were a curse. Helpless as this malevolent being descended from the skies and stole his groom away, Yu Wenzhou learned just how despicable dragons can truly be.
That night Yu Wenzhou cursed the lands and heavens.
It all started with someone’s stupid idea to suspend the war and form a pact of alliance between the Fox Clan and the Tiger Clan. According to the teachings of Yu Wenzhou’s education, the two clans had never really gotten along and their enmity had lasted for millennia already. Both clans were extremely territorial and ambitious when it came to conquering each other's land, which caused conflicts to arise between them on a regular basis.
Some wise men had said that the worst days were behind them, but the conflicts hadn’t ceased completely. Small scuffles arose every now and then, sometimes expanding into bigger engagements that would morally drain the military power of both clans. Tired of the endless confrontations that held no rhyme or reason, the leaders of both clans decided to sign a non-aggression pact.
And how was any of this connected to Yu Wenzhou?
There was a paragraph in the pact, which stated that the treaty will go into effect only after a marriage between two highly influential members of the clans was consummated. Yu Wenzhou was the current head of the Yu Family and the grandson of one of the Fox Clan’s greatest generals. He had been chosen as the representative of the Fox Clan almost immediately, way faster than what was appropriate, which made it seem like they had no other candidate to begin with.
The Yu Family was a Daimyo family and one of the oldest families in the Fox Clan, which had produced many devoted and competent generals throughout their history. Even Yu Wenzhou himself had no idea just how much power his name held. Probably enough to cause serious repercussions when being misused.
It was true that his family held power, but that wasn’t all he had. Yu Wenzhou himself was special. He was a genius child, born with two tails of white color. According to ancient recordings and beliefs, which were still extremely popular among the clergy, children born with two or more tails had been blessed by their ancestors. The bigger the number at birth, the higher the blessing of ancestors - however two tails was already a rare occurrence, let alone being born with three or four tails. A tail and ears of pure white color was seen as something sacred as it was believed to be a mark of shapeshifting abilities - something extremely rare among foxes.
A prosperous family and blessed by the ancestors, that alone made Yu Wenzhou a wanted marriage partner. However, the final aspect might’ve been the most important deciding factor. It was also Yu Wenzhou’s one and only true Achilles heel.
Yu Wenzhou was an omega.
The Fox Clan and the Tiger Clan both mostly consisted of alphas and betas, while the occurrence of omegas was like trying to find a white fox in a snowstorm. The Tiger Clan had immediately announced that their chosen representative would be an alpha. The Fox Clan was then left to choose between a beta and an omega, but for the best compatibility of the dynamics they would want to choose an omega.
Yu Wenzhou was certain that in reality there had been many suitable marriage candidates to send off to the Tiger Clan, but he was just as certain that the council probably had not even considered them. Their main objective was, and always had been, to get rid of Yu Wenzhou. And this arranged marriage came to them as the perfect opportunity.
The Yu Family had always had a close and warm relationship with the Royal Family - and Yu Wenzhou’s grandfather, when still alive, was considered as the right hand of the Shogun. He had more power and influence in the palace than any of the council members, and the old men didn’t like it. Not to mention that his daughter, Yu Wenzhou’s mother, was betrothed to a strong alpha. The future of the family seemed bright.
That was until their fall happened.
The heavily publicised and prestigious fiancé suddenly vanished, causing Yu Wenzhou’s mother to go into early labour. It was extremely long, difficult and stressful, nearly draining all energy from the mother and son who were both fighting for their lives. Yu Wenzhou’s mother won this fight, but a couple of days later when she received the results of the dynamic test, she lost herself. Not only had she been dumped before getting married, the child she had given birth to, while blessed, was also an omega. Unable to carry the shame of giving birth to a deformed beast, an omega, she took her own life.
Yu Wenzhou’s grandfather lost his only child, his sunshine, and was left with an infant omega as his only heir. Many were predicting the downfall of the Yu Family, which was almost before their eyes. For as long as Yu Wenzhou’s grandfather lived, he kept his position strong, while teaching his grandson everything he knew. He would not tolerate anyone treating his heir differently because of his dynamics. However, when time finally got the best of him, and Yu Wenzhou was appointed as the family head, the treatment Yu Wenzhou received changed immediately.
He lost all power among the council and Shogun, or maybe it was something they believed he didn’t have to begin with. His ideas were constantly stolen by others, who presented them as their own and gained the favour of the Shogun this way. All of his advice was ignored, even if he was correct, and if something went wrong he would receive all the blame despite having nothing to do with the matter. As soon as his grandfather was no longer there, Yu Wenzhou was treated like he was invisible.
But as long as Yu Wenzhou was still there, he had a chance to affect the policies of the council and Shogun. Despite having different dynamics, he was well liked among the citizens for everything he had done for them. The members of the council needed to find a way to get rid of him, once and for all.
When the paragraph on the marriage between two clan members had been read aloud, the old men in the council realized a way to completely eliminate the Yu Family while the useless omega was still acting as the head of the family. They managed to convince the Shogun to go through with their ideas, and soon Yu Wenzhou was presented with a Royal order to be married off to the Tiger Clan.
An order he was in no position to refuse.
Staring at his reflection in the mirror, a heavy sigh escaped from Yu Wenzhou’s mouth. It was finally time. After many months of preparations, the zero hour had finally arrived. Today was the day he was going to be married off to the Tiger Clan.
Yu Wenzhou was exhausted, both mentally and physically. The trip alone, from his home city Hyuga, to his fiance’s home city Tohamsan had taken him nearly 2 months. Not to mention all the preparations he had done before it. It was true that Yu Wenzhou had agreed upon his fiancé choosing where they would get married, but back then he hadn’t been aware that his chosen partner lived on the other side of the continent.
This, on top of having to deal with the elders of the council, had Yu Wenzhou mentally drained.
Yu Wenzhou had made sure to set a couple of conditions before agreeing on the union. He was completely aware that the council wanted to get rid of him, and he had no plans of making it easy for them. He wasn’t in any position to make strong demands, but he was extremely firm with his conditions.
After all, he had a family to protect.
Whilst Yu Wenzhou had agreed to the wedding being held within the territories of the Tiger Clan, he insisted that the wedding ceremony would be held according to the customs and traditions of the Fox Clan by a fox priest and shrine maidens. Yu Wenzhou didn’t consider himself to be the religious type, but even he wanted to be protected by the gods and deities of his family - even if they might’ve abandoned him long time ago.
The second condition Yu Wenzhou brought up was about his future offspring. He wanted that the first pup born to him as a fox kit, would be sent to the Fox Clan. This kit would then be raised by those personally chosen by Yu Wenzhou and would eventually become the head of the Yu family. Yu Wenzhou had to make sure that the blood of the Yu Family didn’t die along with him. He also made extra arrangements to ensure there were trusted subordinates who would stand at the head of the Yu Family once he was married off and who would be taking care of his kit once it was born, or lead the family in the case of no suitable kit being born.
Yu Wenzhou’s original aim was to scare the old men off with the demands and make them reconsider the candidacy. After all, he had made it so that no matter what happens, the power of the Yu Family would remain strong. Even if Yu Wenzhou was to never give birth to a kit, the men chosen by him to lead the Yu Family were all strong individuals. They might’ve not gone through his level of training, but they were all more than capable of leading the family on their own. With these people behind him, Yu Wenzhou was assured the Yu Family would be alright.
However, against all odds, the council surprised Yu Wenzhou by agreeing to his requests way too easily. It was like they had no worries about the conditions the young family head had set. This made Yu Wenzhou think that he should have set even more demanding conditions, so that the Shogun would’ve had a change of heart. But in the end, the contract was signed without another thought and Yu Wenzhou was stuck in a situation of having to marry a guy he’s never even met and who was from another clan.
Yu Wenzhou let out another deep sigh.
“If you keep being so gloomy on your wedding day, the heavens will start crying too.” A voice spoke all of a sudden. Yu Wenzhou looked up and realized that two people had entered the room - two whom he knew extremely well.
“Shiqin. Yanqi.” Yu Wenzhou sounded surprised. He was staring at his best friend, but his eyes then shifted to the young fox woman hiding behind his friend's back. What were these two doing there?
“Cheer up, Brother Wenzhou! This is supposed to be a happy day.” Dai Yanqi said as she walked to the older man and hugged him tightly. After the hug, she looked him in the eyes, portraying an innocence and purity Yu Wenzhou felt like many people, including him, had lost a long time ago. Dai Yanqi then continued. “You’re getting married today.”
Unwillingly, Yu Wenzhou forced a smile on his face. He knew that Dai Yanqi was only wishing the best for him, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t see this situation in a positive light. “I know Little Yan. I know. I just…” Yu Wenzhou kept a short pause, unable to put his thoughts into words. “I just wish I could’ve married someone out of love. All I wanted was to be happy; a loving family, adoring spouse and children that take after us.”
The room was quiet for a painful breath.
“... Brother Wenzhou!” Dai Yanqi’s eyes watered as she pulled him into another tight hug. For a moment Yu Wenzhou felt like he was going to suffocate. “I wish there was something I could do for you.”
“Marry the guy in my stead?” Yu Wenzhou asked with a straight face.
Dai Yanqi’s eyes glazed. She turned to Xiao Shiqin in a robotic motion, as if her soul had left her mortal body. She said nothing to the man, but her expression screamed for help. It was obvious to see how much she disliked the idea.
Yu Wenzhou chuckled at the reaction.
“I’m joking.” He then smiled, a soft expression on his face as he looked at the two. “How could I force apart two people that are engaged to each other? I will be waiting for an invitation to your wedding.”
Xiao Shiqin’s eyes softened. “It’ll be our biggest honor to have you at our wedding.”
“I will definitely be there,” Yu Wenzhou replied to his friend.
He had known Xiao Shiqin since childhood, but they didn’t truly become friends until they had started attending the same school. From there on, or at least after Xiao Shiqin had stopped competing against Yu Wenzhou in everything, they had been inseparable. When his marriage contract to the Tiger Clan had been made official, Yu Wenzhou had made sure that Xiao Shiqin, who was the only true support he had after losing his immediate family, would attend the wedding as a member of his family.
They met Dai Yanqi later on during their studies and eventually she and Xiao Shiqin got engaged. She was not only his long term fiancé, but also the daughter of the head priest of the Fox Clan. As per Yu Wenzhou’s wishes, her father would be the person performing and blessing their marriage ceremony and Dai Yanqi would be performing her duties as a shrine maiden.
“Honestly, I never imagined that you would get married before us.” Xiao Shiqin admitted, making it sounds like even now he couldn’t believe the things that were about to happen. “I never thought of you as the type who would accept just anyone as your partner.”
“If it was up to me, I would never be sitting here now. But I have to do this for my family… and clan.” Yu Wenzhou sounded like he didn’t want to say the last words. Being forced into a situation he didn’t want to be in, it was hard for him to think that he was doing this for his clan, for those unsightly beta’s on the council, who’s only enjoyment seemed to be making his life as miserable as possible.
“Wenzhou-” Xiao Shiqin’s words were cut short when they heard a knock at the door. The trio turned their heads towards the door.
“Yes.” Yu Wenzhou replied, giving the person permission to enter the room.
A young fox girl wearing a white kosode and red hakama, the typical shrine maiden attire, entered the room. She rested her hands on her knees, panting for air as her orange tail kept swaying back and forth. “Miss Dai Yanqi.” She could mutter between her breaths but had to immediately stop to catch some more air.
“What’s wrong?” Dai Yanqi immediately asked. This girl was one of the people they had brought with them, who was supposed to help them with the wedding ceremony. Her being here meant that Dai Yanqi’s father had ordered the girl to find her.
“The sword dance… the Crown Princess… missing… your father… you need… come.” The girl finally managed to stutter some comprehensible words, even if her sentence still made no sense. She then continued puffing for more air. Clearly the matter had been urgent enough to make her try to find Dai Yanqi as fast possible.
Dai Yanqi’s eyes went serious.
“I should head back to where Father is. It seems that they need me.” She hurried towards the door, but not before giving one last hug to Yu Wenzhou. Dai Yanqi then looked at the shrine maiden. “Tell me everything you know on the way there,” she said just moments before closing the door behind her.
Yu Wenzhou and Xiao Shiqin were left staring at the door with their eyes wide open.
“I hope everything is fine with her,” Yu Wenzhou finally broke the silence.
Xiao Shiqin’s expression was soft. “She’s going to be alright. She’s a strong person.”
Yu Wenzhou couldn’t agree more. If there was someone capable of resolving whatever trouble they were currently facing, then that would be Dai Yanqi. Despite being a beta, she was not afraid to go up against anyone - not even scary and dangerous alphas. She had the persistence of not stopping till the matter had been resolved.
“So, how are you really feeling?” Xiao Shiqin asked and Yu Wenzhou couldn’t help but to be honest to his friend. The two men continued chatting for a moment, before they heard another knock on the door. This time two guards entered the room, and bowed deeply.
“Lord Yu, your dress and the attendants have arrived. We must start the preparations.” The guard with light hair approached them, and bowed deeply. The one next to him gestured with a bow as well and slid the door open, letting the servants enter the room, carrying the wedding dress and other items needed for the preparations.
Seeing all the people rush into the room, Xiao Shiqin decided it was time to excuse himself. “I should get going then. Good luck, may the gods be with you.” Xiao Shiqin’s smile was gentle as he slowly made his way to the door.
Yu Wenzhou felt like he wouldn’t be stuck in this situation had the gods been with him from the very beginning. But he had no reason to be angry at his friend, they both knew there was no way out of this situation, even if Yu Wenzhou wanted to run away. This is why Yu Wenzhou's smile was also very warm. “Thank you.”
After Xiao Shiqin had left the room, and Yu Wenzhou was in the presence of his guards and servants, the man sighed loudly. His friend's intentions had probably been to cheer him up, but there was nothing in this situation that would brighten his mood. He was glad about meeting Xiao Shiqin however, it had helped to calm down his nerves.
Yu Wenzhou was broken from his thoughts, when he realised that all the servants were fussing around him. They sat him down before a mirror and started doing his makeup, while another person combed his hair and tied it in a ponytail. Once the makeup had been finished, his hair was secured with a wig cap and then a wig, styled in bunkin-shimada, was put on him. The look was finished with a kushi comb and other kanzashi hair ornaments.
With the face and hair finished, it was time to move onto the dress. Before the servants could even put the dress on, they had to create the shape of it with padding and wrapping, only after that the first layer could be tied into place. Then came the second layer with an obi, a large kimono belt, being wrapped around it. Third layer was the final layer, and it was called an uchikake - or in Yu Wenzhou’s case a shiro-uchikake, for being of white color. Some final fixes were made to the make-up and the look was finished with a wataboshi hood.
With the dress finished, Yu Wenzhou was then given a couple small accessories. A small futokorogatana dagger and a hakoseko, a box-shaped accessory, which stored a small hand mirror in it. The look was perfected with a small suehiro folding fan. Having completed their duty the female attendants bowed and moved back along the wall at the right side of the room.
Yu Wenzhou was ready. Covered in pure white, his three tails of the same color spread from behind his back, making him look majestical. The dark complexion of his hair was a perfect contrast to his otherwise light essence. There was no doubt that eyes would turn towards him, after all he looked like a perfect bride.
Yu Wenzhou was the main character of this day.
The two guards stared at him, their mouths open in amazement. Finally, the one with lighter hair cleared his throat. “Lord Yu, are you ready?”
Yu Wenzhou turned and looked at him with his eyes fierce as the night sky. He held onto the fan in his hands and took a few deep breaths.
“Let’s go.” He then said.
The two men appointed to guard him lead the way, as Yu Wenzhou closely followed behind them. Not wanting to think about the upcoming events, he tried to distract himself as much as possible, trying to think about anything he could come up with. That’s why in that moment his eyes were closely following the swaying tails of his two guards.
Zhao Yang, the older one of the guards sporting two red tails, was the young master as well as the future head of the Zhao Family, which was famous for their sword fighting skills. His position was much like Yu Wenzhou’s, with the Zhao Family being one of the great four fox families, but the treatment he received and his social standing was completely opposite. Everyone respected this young fox, who was one of the strongest swordsmen of the clan and their biggest pride.
A respect Yu Wenzhou could never have.
The man then moved his eyes to the other guard.
Unlike Zhao Yang’s common tail color, this guy’s tail resembled a radiating amber, one of the rarest variations and a color he hadn’t seen on anyone beside the young fox prince. Which is why it was refreshing to see amber coloring on this young guards tail, especially since it matched well with his hair.
But who was this guy? From what he had been told, the council appointed the two strongest fighters of the Zhao Dojo as his guards. He could see why Zhao Yang was considered as such a person, but this youngster who, by the count of his one tail, seemed to still be in his first hundred years. Someone of his age seemed to be way too young to be considered as one of the elites.
So how come this lad was chosen?
“I still can’t believe that Lord Yu is getting married...”
Yu Wenzhou’s attention was pulled back to reality upon hearing a female voice whisper. It seemed that the two female servants following behind him had decided that this was the perfect time for some gossip. They seemed to be completely ignoring the fact that he was close enough to hear them perfectly, which showed how little respect they actually held for him.
“Being born as an omega really is his biggest misfortune. Had he been an alpha they would’ve never forced him to marry into the Tiger Clan. Just look at Lord Zhao Yang.”
“Mnm. Now he has no other choice. With his grandfather no longer backing him up, he’s powerless against the council.”
“I wonder what will become of the Yu Family after this? Is it finally the end of their reign?”
“Lord Yu Wenzhou!” a voice sharply interrupted.
The sudden snap made the two female servants cry in surprise.
The younger one of the guards sharply turned around, his amber tail following behind in a swinging motion. His eyes locked on the female servants and he hissed in anger, scaring the women away by at least three feet. When the annoyance was gotten rid off, the guard then switched his glance to Yu Wenzhou. He flashed a smile, one of the brightest the man had ever seen.
“We’re almost there.” He then announced with a chirpy voice, finishing his message.
Yu Wenzhou looked visibly surprised. It was clear that he found it impossible that someone - no, a stranger had stood up for him. While it was true that this person was his bodyguard, that’s all he really was there for. To protect him from the physical attacks. He didn’t need to step in when someone was bad mouthing him.
Due to his dynamics, Yu Wenzhou had always faced injustice and rough treatment, no matter where he was. Even when his grandfather had been alive, there were servants in the house who treated him poorly behind his grandfather's back. Upon becoming the head of the family, Yu Wenzhou had made sure to fire all those servants who had mistreated him throughout the years. To this day, there were only a few people - beside his late grandfather and Xiao Shiqin - who treated him with equal respect, and none of them were strangers to him.
This guard must have a few loose screws.
“We should go,” Zhao Yang said. Despite being of alpha dynamics, he seemed to be treating Yu Wenzhou neutrally. That, or he was just fulfilling his duty, not caring about who the person he was appointed to guard was. Yu Wenzhou had met the young master of the Zhao Family a couple of times in the past, and from what he could remember, Zhao Yang had always treated him like a peer of his, despite Yu Wenzhou’s omega dynamics.
Unlike the nasty beta’s of the council, this man knew how to treat others with respect.
The guards had led Yu Wenzhou to the entrance which would lead to the courtyard. They stopped before letting him enter, and one of the guards left his position to inform a eunuch that the bride had arrived. He then quickly returned back to his post and soon a herald announced in a loud voice.
“The Fox Clan’s representative for the marriage has arrived.”
With that the doors before Yu Wenzhou were slid open and the courtyard fell silent. Everyone was staring at him. This was the moment Yu Wenzhou was truly standing out, this was his moment. All eyes were on Yu Wenzhou and Yu Wenzhou alone.
Meanwhile Yu Wenzhou was looking around, trying to spot familiar faces. For the union to be legalized, each one of the remaining clans sent out a representative to show their agreement and blessing to the wedding. These were the people Yu Wenzhou tried to find first, especially the representative of the Rabbit Clan.
He soon spotted a man with dark brownish hair standing alone in the shadows, rocking his young son who was soundly sleeping in his arms. They both had two-toned ears, with dominating orange color and white spotting, and both had one pointy ear while the other one was loosely casting a shadow over their faces. The more he saw the boy grow up, the more Yu Wenzhou was reminded of the old saying ‘like father, like son’.
The young boy moved around in his father’s arms uncomfortably, but soon found a new good position and kept sleeping. The man smiled at his son, and then looked up, his eyes unexpectedly meeting Yu Wenzhou’s. The Rabbit Clan representative bowed deep as a greeting and then smiled kindly.
Discovering that the rabbit representative was no other than this man, Yu Wenzhou felt happy. He had hoped to meet and talk with his family doctor and long time comrade. Yu Wenzhou then looked around again, wondering if he could recognize more representatives.
Would they be people he knew?
It seemed that the Eagle Clan had sent the young master of the Zhou Family as their representative. If Yu Wenzhou’s memory hadn’t betrayed him completely, the beta eagle had been engaged since his childhood and was supposed to get married soon. The representative of the Tanuki Clan surprised Yu Wenzhou big time. It seemed strange to him that they would send the jewel of the kabuki world, the young rising star Li Xuan, to the wedding. But Yu Wenzhou knew one thing for sure, Li Xuan would become huge one day.
The other big surprise for Yu Wenzhou was finding out who the representative of the Crow Clan was. After all, they had sent the young master of the Zhang Family, and the future chief of the Crow Clan. Unlike most crow’s who had ashen wings, Zhang Xinjie sported wings of pure white. This was the mark of someone who had been chosen by the gods to lead his clan.
From the representatives of the final two clans, Yu Wenzhou recognized only one of them. And that was the man from the Tortoise Clan, the head of the Knights, Lin Jie. This man was the type to look and act plain and average, but he in fact was hugely respected all around his clan. Moving from Lin Jie to the Deer Clan representative, Yu Wenzhou realized that she was also the only female representative present. However, he didn’t know what kind of social standing or position this young woman had in the Deer Clan. She was someone he had never met.
Six clans and six representatives - everyone was present. Had they not been, this political wedding would’ve been cancelled from the get go. Besides the representatives of each clan, the rest of the guests consisted mostly of people from the Tiger Clan and the Fox Clan - influential members, generals and members of the great families. Members of the royal families of both clans were also present. Yu Wenzhou let out a soft smile when he spotted the young fox prince - his amber tail was swaying from excitement.
At last, when his eyes had nowhere else to turn, Yu Wenzhou’s stare locked on his groom.
As expected, his fiancé stood out, and not just because of the montsuki-haori-hakama, the groom's wedding kimono, but also because of his unyielding presence. Yu Wenzhou had so far only heard stories of his high achievements and seen a portrait of the tiger warrior, but now he was meeting him for the first time.
Yu Wenzhou was unable to look away.
Staring at his soon-to-be husband, Han Wenqing, Yu Wenzhou's sight was frozen in place.
He finally understood why Han Wenqing was considered the number one among all tiger soldiers. The man had been proclaimed as the strongest at 13 years of age and was promoted to a general position at a tender age of 20, a couple of years before he even presented as an alpha. It had been said that the Han Family’s fame had slowly been decreasing throughout the years, but Han Wenqing’s magnificent accomplishment had brought it all back, making the Han name even bigger than before.
This man, Han Wenqing, his fiancé, was considered the mightiest soldier to have ever lived.
His eyes still not breaking the stare, Yu Wenzhou couldn’t help but to be overwhelmed. Han Wenqing’s long and striped tail was making small and precise movements as it majestically moved behind him. His ears were constantly twitching in a regular manner, picking up and reacting to even the smallest noises. His eyebrows were in a constant furrow, making him look annoyed by the situation. His wild appearance fit that of a tiger and he was bulky which was a typical trait for an alpha.
Yu Wenzhou wondered if Han Wenqing could hear his fastened heartbeat.
One thing he did find weird though. It had shocked Yu Wenzhou greatly when Han Wenqing had been announced as his partner, and the man the Tiger Clan had chosen as their representative. What made them sacrifice their strongest soldier like this, when there were surely more suitable people for him to marry?
For example, the tiger’s Crown Princess was still without a partner. Wouldn’t partnering them up be the best option to ensure strong and healthy children? Then again, their dynamics would become the biggest issue of their relationship. Tang Rou was not only the Crown Princess but also an alpha, so it was likely she would refuse submitting to another alpha. Meanwhile, Han Wenqing’s pride would not accept the fact that his partner was of a higher social standing.
It was all so problematic.
It was also something Yu Wenzhou shouldn’t worry himself about. While many options and solutions were possible, none of them mattered in this moment. Han Wenqing being chosen as the Tiger Clan candidate was what forced Yu Wenzhou into his current position. Yu Wenzhou was going to marry Han Wenqing and that’s all he needed to know and care about.
Finally, Yu Wenzhou was able to avert his eyes from his husband-to-be. He glanced at his two guards who hadn't left his side and then at the tiger lad who had made the announcement. Only now did he realize that this heralder was hastily trying to encourage Yu Wenzhou to step down to the yard and walk to the groom, as per according to the custom.
And this is what Yu Wenzhou did. With the help of his guards, he stepped down to the courtyard and made his way to Han Wenqing. Everyone immediately cleared out of the way, creating a path for him to walk on. Yu Wenzhou’s guards remained next to him this whole time.
Soon there was no one between him and Han Wenqing.
Yu Wenzhou bowed deep before the tiger general, proceeding to introduce himself. “I’m Yu Wenzhou from the city of Hyuga, the heir of the Yu Family and the holder of Mikazuki and Hyuga Masamune. It is my wish today to honor the agreement made among our clans and create a union between the Fox Clan and the Tiger Clan through this wedding ceremony where I am to marry you and become your partner in life.” They might both be from great families, but Yu Wenzhou, who was to never receive the status of a general himself, felt like he was the one in a lower position here.
He was the offering and sacrificial pawn of Fox Clan.
“Han Wenqing from the city of Tohamsan of the east peak, a tiger general and the holder of Samjingeom. I also wish to honor the agreement made among our clans and create a union between the Fox Clan and the Tiger Clan through this wedding ceremony where we are to be wed and become partners in life.” The man recited his introduction after Yu Wenzhou and took a step towards the other man.
It was only in that moment that Yu Wenzhou realized it.
It was only in that moment that it hit his nostrils and filled his lungs.
Han Wenqing’s alpha smell was unbearable.
What in the world were these people thinking? The strong scent turned his canals inside out as if trying to rape his olfactory system. Being able to withstand this made Yu Wenzhou glad that he had taken the odour repellent earlier, otherwise things could’ve gotten dangerous for him.
He was already overly conscious about the strong mixture of alpha smells - this included the young tiger prince, Tang Hao, who was clearly still unable to control his smell - as well as the crown princess, whose smell remained strong despite not even being present in the yard.
But Han Wenqing - his strong and breathtaking smell was an insult to Yu Wenzhou’s face.
The Tiger Clan seemed to have high expectations for the wedding night.
Han Wenqing kept his expression neutral as if nothing had happened. Meanwhile Yu Wenzhou tried to stop himself from showing any signs of discomfort, taking deep breaths to keep his mind clear.
“The Head Priest has arrived.” Yu Wenzhou turned around when he heard the young tiger cub heralder from before announcing loudly, breaking the silence in the courtyard.
Everyone watched quietly as the head priest of the Fox Clan made his way to the platform that had been set in the courtyard. It held two glamorous chairs on it and the man stopped between them. He looked among the crowd and then Dai Yanqi’s father spoke.
“It is my honor today to stand before everyone here and witness the union between two clans who have been in disagreement since the beginning of days. Today we can finally put these differences aside and unite together two individuals who will be the representative manifestation of the agreement.” The man preached and then looked at Yu Wenzhou and Han Wenqing. “I would like to welcome the soon-to-be-weds to be seated at their seats to observe the traditional sacred dance.”
Han Wenqing and Yu Wenzhou glanced at each other. With a mutual silent agreement they then made their way to their seats. Han Wenqing first helped Yu Wenzhou to sit down, as the wedding kimono was difficult to move in, and then sat down himself. Yu Wenzhou noticed his guards positioned themselves behind him, on both sides of his chair. There were also some tiger guards positioned near them.
As the young couple had sat down, Han Wenqing on the left and Yu Wenzhou on his right, the guests calmed down as well. As per the instructions of the head priest and eunuchs, a big open space was created in the courtyard, and soon Yu Wenzhou saw someone walking towards the center of it.
It was Dai Yanqi. And she was holding two tiger swords in her hands.
The young fox lass made her way to the middle of the ring and got into her starting position. She took a deep breath, and then started moving around gracefully, while doing beautiful patterns with the swords, having full control of her body movements. It was only then that Yu Wenzhou finally realized what was going on.
This girl was performing the sword dance.
While sword dance didn’t belong to the wedding tradition of the Fox Clan, it was a common practice and custom of the Tiger Clan. A sword dance performed by the best dancer of the village was made to appeal to the gods. It was believed that if the dance was well-liked and received by the gods, the marriage would be prosperous and long lasting.
Yu Wenzhou realized that not only was Dai Yanqi performing the sword dance with two tiger swords, they had even dressed her in Tiger Clan attire which was typical for a woman to wear while performing this dance. She was wearing a hanbok, which consisted of a skirt and jacket, as well as a kwaeja overcoat, jeon-dae belt and jeon-rip, which was a military style cap. She was the daughter of a man who was the religious head of the Fox Clan, so it was strange to see her wear the attire of another clan.
But Dai Yanqi wasn’t supposed to be performing this dance. Yu Wenzhou knew it and that’s why he had been shocked to see her make an appearance like this. The person who had originally been appointed to the role of the performer was the Tiger Clan Crown Princess Tang Rou. Had something happened to her for Dai Yanqi to be performing instead of her? Yu Wenzhou suddenly remembered how the young fox kit had come searching for Dai Yanqi. Maybe it had been related to this?
Tang Rou was known to be the best sword dancer in the whole Tiger Clan, and compared to, Dai Yanqi, who had entirely self-trained herself just because she had interest in the art, had the skills of a child. But even then, the young female fox held the best performing skills out of all the guests present. It is possible that this was the reason why she was now performing in front of Yu Wenzhou instead of the crown princess.
Yu Wenzhou truly wanted to enjoy Dai Yanqi’s performance, especially because it was her performing, but he was unable to. All of his concentration went to his useless efforts trying to suppress himself from going crazy over Han Wenqing’s smell. Was it really too much to ask for a peaceful wedding?
It seemed like it really was.
He still couldn’t comprehend how a person could have such a strong smell, breaking through a double dose of odour repellent. Han Wenqing was obviously a natural enemy to an untrained omega. Even Yu Wenzhou, who had trained for years to resist an alpha’s smell, was being affected through the repellent. There was no way in the world that a newbie omega would be left unaffected.
Han Wenqing was a dangerous man.
A. Very. Dangerous. Man.
While Yu Wenzhou was still mid thought, Dai Yanqi finished the dance performance. She bowed deeply and, while everyone was applauding, proceeded to leave the courtyard. She would move quickly to have her clothes changed and then move to the temple, where the wedding ceremony would be held.
Yu Wenzhou and Han Wenqing were also escorted to the temple, the head priest leading the way.
While all the guests had been present during the sword dance performance, only the immediate family and royal family would be present during the actual ceremony. This was done to follow the old tradition and respect the gods. Beside the couple, the families and the priests, the other people present at the ceremony would be the guards.
From Yu Wenzhou, that would mean his great-aunt and great-uncle as well as Xiao Shiqin, whom Yu Wenzhou had specifically asked to come and act as a family member. From the royal family of the Fox Clan; the shogun and the young prince were there, as well as the two guards appointed to protect Yu Wenzhou.
Han Wenqing had only his parents attending, as he was the only child and future of the Han Family. From the Tiger Clan; the Emperor, the prince and the palace guards were also present. Originally, the crown princess was also supposed to be there too, but she hadn’t been seen the whole day.
Dai Yanqi’s father took the couple to the temple, and made his way to his position. Yu Wenzhou and Han Wenqing entered the shrine after him. Dai Yanqi and her father stood by both sides of the altar - the young fox girl on the left side, as she was the shrine maiden, while her father as the head priest stood on the right side.
On the altar, there had been placed many different food items, such as salt, water and sake along with some vegetables and fruits. Yu Wenzhou also noticed that they had already placed the wedding rings on the altar.
Everything had been prepared, and now they just had to wait for the ceremony to start.
Yu Wenzhou and Han Wenqing, as according to the custom, stood in their ceremonious spots at the center of the room. Meanwhile, their family members went to stand at their respective sides, Yu Wenzhou’s on the right and Han Wenqing’s on the left, behind tables that contained sake and some small fruits.
Once everyone had settled down and taken their own places, the head priest started the ceremony. The first part of it was Dai Yanqi’s father going around the room, purifying the shrine, while calling the attention of the gods, who those attending prayed would bless the upcoming union.
He then announced the next part of the ceremony to begin, “We will now begin the three-three-nine-times ceremony.”
Yu Wenzhou and Han Wenqing, along with their guests, who had all been standing this whole time finally sat down. Dai Yanqi then placed a small table before the couple, which included a small sake cup.
As according to the rituals, she then gave the cup to Han Wenqing and poured sake into his cup. The man placed it near his mouth and took three sips from the cup and placed it on the table after he was done. Dai Yanqi then proceeded to pour sake into another cup and gave it to Yu Wenzhou, who repeated what Han Wenqing had just done and took three sips from the cup.
These three sips were to be enacted a total of three times. Each time the cup size would increase a little bit. For the second round, Yu Wenzhou was the first one to take the three sips, and on the third time Han Wenqing went first again.
Han Wenqing finished his last three sips of the biggest sake cup and placed the cup on the table. Yu Wenzhou was given his last cup, and Dai Yanqi proceeded to pour some sake into it. Just as Yu Wenzhou was about to place the cup onto his lips, the building started to tremble and the cup fell from the man’s hands, falling on the floor and scattering all around.
“What is this?” Dai Yanqi’s father cried in confusion, not happy about the fact that the ceremony was being interrupted.
The earthquake was followed by a strong gust of wind, which managed to completely destroy and scatter the shoji walls away from the support of the shrine. Yu Wenzhou ducked down from the impact, closing his eyes and covering his ears. He could feel strong arms taking hold of him and protecting him from the wind. To think that Han Wenqing would come to his rescue in this situation.
(In this situation Yu Wenzhou didn’t want to thank the gods of the winds, but he was relieved he finally could breath normally as the wind took Han Wenqing’s smell away before it reached his nose.)
Finally, the wind calmed down - leaving the shrine destroyed beyond repair. Seeing how the commotion had calmed down, Yu Wenzhou dared to open his eyes. Raising his head, the young man saw a dark figure standing where the entrance used to be, but what now was just a huge mess.
The man, sporting dark hair, was around Yu Wenzhou’s height and wore the type of clothes that the man had never seen being worn before. Yu Wenzhou didn’t recognize this unknown style. The clothes consisted of a light greenish blouse with a crossed collar and a darker greenish dress positioned at his mid-waist.
The most eye-catching feature of the man, beside the small antlers growing from his head, was the majestic golden-scaled tail that was swaying from right to left in a calm manner as his eyes slowly examined the room. A playful smirk on his face did not do any justice to his otherwise majestic appearance.
Yu Wenzhou might’ve never met such a beast in his life before, but even he wasn’t ignorant enough to not know what kind of being he was facing.
Before them was standing a celestial Dragon.
“Wha- Who in the world are you?” Yu Wenzhou heard Dai Yanqi’s father ask and felt like crying. No matter how much the temple was trying to deny the existence of dragons, this was just ridiculous. Everyone in the room could clearly tell that the being before them could not be anything else but a dragon.
Only an idiot wouldn’t believe it’s a dragon.
The golden-scaled Dragon glanced at the head priest with an uninterested expression and then his eyes moved to the union partners, the wedding couple.
“I heard that today’s wedding was supposed to happen only if all clans approve it,” the Dragon started, “But for some reason I did not receive an invitation. If Su Mucheng heard about this, she would be very, very sad, so I decided to pay a visit.”
“How dare you interrupt a sacred wedding ceremony!? Do you want the wrath of the gods on you?!” Dai Yanqi’s father kept arguing against the Dragon, being completely oblivious of his own position in this situation. More than the wrath of gods, he should be fearing for the wrath of this Dragon.
“If I was scared of things that don’t exist, I would’ve fallen from the skies long ago.” The Dragon replied, still giving zero attention to the head priest. Instead his eyes were locked on Han Wenqing and Yu Wenzhou.
Or maybe more specifically Han Wenqing.
“You two certainly would make an interesting couple, but I am afraid I can’t give my blessings to this union. I object to this marriage.” He approached the two slowly, ignoring the guards who had gotten into a protective stance and had their spears pointing towards the Dragon. Hearing as no commands were said, they could only step back as the Dragon got closer and closer to the couple.
Finally, when standing before the couple, he held out his arm to Han Wenqing. “Follow me.”
It wasn’t exactly an order, but it was said in a manner which sounded like it was impossible to refuse. Han Wenqing, staring at the outreached hand, seemed to hesitate for a moment. He glanced at his parents - his mother who was sobbing openly in his father’s arms and his father who was gently holding onto his wife. The older man nodded softly.
Before Yu Wenzhou could catch up to what was happening before his eyes, Han Wenqing had already taken hold of the Dragon’s hand. The beast smiled, but it wasn’t a smile that projected happiness or kindness. It was a smug smile of someone who knew he had just won.
“Wha- What did you come here for?” Yu Wenzhou yelled in desperation, slightly stuttering, as he finally understood that his groom had just been snatched from right before his eyes.
The Dragon turned to him, smirking. “I came to steal from you.”
Following those words, a huge and strong whirlwind filled the shrine again, blinding everyone for a moment. Once it had calmed down, everyone realised that Han Wenqing and the Dragon had disappeared.
Yu Wenzhou fell on his knees, defeated. He hadn’t even gotten officially married yet and his man had already been stolen for him. Was this some kind of a joke, were the gods laughing at his supposed fortune by throwing all this misfortune at his face.
This was more like an ancestral curse. His ancestors had clearly abandoned him even before he had been born, and now he had to deal with the aftermath.
That day, Yu Wenzhou cursed the lands and heavens.