On the night of the lantern festival, cherry blossoms were carried across the vibrant city dyed in warm colours. From the small alleys to the white marbled bridges over the calm river, people from all directions clad in beautiful dresses and attires buzzed towards the city centre.
Amongst them, translucent figures joined to witness the new birth of their saviour and Lord-
The Ghost King.
Flourishing between the budding of immortals and ghosts, the immortal world has braced itself for the rare coronation in the capital to welcome the one who will rule above them all.
The capital of the immortal world was a white treasure, fleeting under the bright moonlight, it danced on water and was surrounded by the river that cut it off from the other cities.
White marble graced every street, every house built like an ancient temple, every bridge connected the capital to the rest of the world.
A place that reigned over everything, that enjoyed its beauty and might. And in the midst, a gigantic palace rose, drawing everyone to it to bear witness of the new Ghost King.
The sweet smell of candy, the smell of barbecued meat and the nauseating smell of heavy perfume all mingled together to fill every corner of the city. The vendors and the immortals who waited for the announcement in front of the beautiful and grand palace, eagerly held the lanterns in their hands to set them free once their eyes laid upon their new king.
A wonderful sight, a warm feeling opened before everyone. However, in the dark alleys in the outskirts of the cities, far from the bright and soothing light of the centre, vengeful ghosts roamed around.
Their ghastly appearance and blood-shot eyes to the torn skin fluctuated between transparent and translucent.
They searched for new victims to fuel their rage and their unforgettable hatred. Hundreds of them swarmed a little alley to corner a young boy who trembled against the wall that was a dead end.
With nowhere to go, he submitted to his fate and his blood tainted the ground as his flesh fell off his bones and his cries were silenced while the last of his life force was sucked out by the ghosts.
This young boy, however, wasn't enough to satisfy the hunger of the hundred ghosts and so they scattered to find more preys.
A while later, light footsteps rushed to the place of the young boy's mutilated and dried corpse.
"We were too late," a gentle and pleasing voice filled the air and purged it from the stench and toxicity the ghosts left behind.
A beautiful young woman, seemingly in her twenties, with long, flourishing black hair and glistening eyes reflected in the moonlight, truly looked like heaven's endorsement. Her thin and pale arm held the bones and she raised her hands to pray so the young boy might rest in peace.
"You are late," an older male landed next to her. His stern face and brusque body looked awkward next to the frail woman.
"We need to hurry and purge the ghosts," she stood up.
"No," the male held her back and his dark eyes condemned her from taking any actions.
"Miss Lia, soon your fiance will become the Ghost King, you will have to be by his side."
"Move Andre, I still have time."
"It is running out."
"I can't let them roam around freely."
Andre could clearly feel the pressure coming from her but he was not intimidated, rather unfazed.
"Who is more important to you? Lord Min will not tolerate any mistakes from you, you know he a-"
"I know! Enough!" Lia slightly trembled at his words and a sad look flashed across her face.
"Please let me take care of the ghosts while you hurry to the coronation, Miss," Andre bowed and waited for her to leave.
She bit her lips and jumped onto the roofs of the buildings and rushed to the centre.
Fireworks lit up the sky and the loud noise drowned out the rapid beating of her own heart. She was anxious. She knew Andre was right. Min would be angry and she couldn't afford to anger him, after all she spent decades chasing him and finally got him to agree to marry her.
He was the love of her life. The undying flame of affection that would always burn inside of her. Nothing could exterminate it.
With those thoughts, she picked up the pace and light as a feather she flew from roof to roof. If anyone saw her, they'd think she was deity, beautiful and ethereal.
Yet, she was also filled with excitement. It has been more than thousands of decades since the last Ghost King has disappeared and for all of this time, the immortals have sought a new King who would be able to keep all the ghosts at bay.
However, none was born and none could fill the requirements it took to become the King. Lia poured all of her efforts, blood, sweat and used her family's power to make Min the new Ghost King, to help and support him and when this day came, he had promised her he will take her as his wife.
Her long desired dream would come true tonight during the lantern festival. It couldn't be more romantic. Lia suppressed her smile and rushed with the wind towards the palace as beneath her the people all cheerfully went along and knelt in front of the ground of the palace, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Ghost King.
In the palace, a tall and handsome man with dark yet attracting eyes waited in a room before the ceremony began.
Loud cheers and earth-shattering shouts filled the whole place and he smiled as all of this belonged to him. He sat on a chair shaped like a throne and spoke to the two attendants behind him,
"Your highness, her highness still hasn't come."
His cold gaze rested on his hand and he sneered, "It's better if she doesn't."
The attendants only bowed and remained silent. The oppressing air was suffocating and they didn't dare to make any more contact with this imposing man who would become the next Ghost King.
They just hoped, they could be relieved of this position.
Suddenly, the door opened and a cheerful man with a good-looking smile came in,
"Min! My man, it's time. Some of the elders are already waiting. Huh? Where's Lia?"
"Don't waste your time worrying about that woman," Min's voice was ice cold as he said those words and it was clear he held nothing more than contempt for her.
He stood up and walked to Leo who leaned against the doorframe with a smile. Leo laughed and patted his shoulder,
"Don't be like that. She'll be sad if she hears you."
"So?" Min's smile was indifferent. They left the room and made their way to the balcony to announce Min's presence.
The attendants breathed a sigh of relief before following Min and Leo, with several men in black robes, that resembled uniforms, behind them.
"Behave, ok? Lia's father, Elder Z and old man are also present," Leo bumped Min in the sides and laughed.
"To think the day would come I'd witness you become the revered king. I remember when you-"
"Don't speak nonsense," Min interrupted and stopped in front of a large door that opened up the balcony.
In front of the door, three elder men waited. Min bowed briefly and greeted them,
"Elder K, Elder Z, father."
Leo followed suit.
Elder K was a tall man with a strong body that could be seen through his clothes, he laughed and patted Min's back,
"No need to be so formal. Lia still isn't here?"
"Your daughter will be here soon," Min said with a smile.
"She's always such a troublemaker, don't mind," Elder K laughed again.
"This is not a laughable matter, the coronation will start any second and-" Elder Z was older than the other two elders and stroked his beard.
"It's fine," Elder L set matters straight. He looked imposing but wore a gentle smile.
"Father is too-" Min started but Leo cut him off,
"How much longer? Hey, can I also stand next to Min?"
Elder L pulled Leo by the ears, "You fool, wait here with us elders."
"Behind the door," he emphasised as Leo snuck glances at Min.
"The coronation will start, please prepare," two attendants stood in front of the door and bowed.
Min nodded and they opened the door and moved aside.
The loud screams filled the palace and overwhelmed the elders yet Min confidently strode out.
Once outside, he raised his hands and the crowd was immediately silenced. Everyone anticipatingly looked at him and waited for his words. Beneath the large balcony, thousands of immortals and ghosts have assembled and knelt to praise and worship him.
Yet whispers flew around and Min picked them up. The corner of his lips turned down but he remained his calm and blank face.
"Why is the Ghost King alone? Wasn't he supposed with his fiance?"
"His fiance? If I recall right, isn't that the young daughter of the K family?"
"Have they fought? What's happening?"
"Everyone," Min's low and magnetic voice was carried through the air and captured everyone's attention.
Min's insides were boiling but he restrained himself as suddenly a glint in the corner of his eyes appeared. He looked up to his right and saw in the back of a building's roof a graceful figure.
This graceful figure jumped from the roof and in the air, under the bright and dazzling moonlight, it seemed like white and silver strands surrounded them and carried them to the balcony.
This person landed on the railing and gave Min a beautiful, brilliant smile.
"Lia," Min's voice held neither positive nor negative feelings.
Her eyes lit up and she turned to the mass,
"Everyone! Welcome the new Ghost King!"
She shouted with light laughter in her voice and the crowd cheered, she jumped down and hugged Min. The crowd was moved by the sight and the lanterns they held, flew up to the sky illuminating the couple as praises rained down,
"Of course, they would do a grand entrance like this!"
"Family K's daughter is really too graceful and bright!"
"Long live the Ghost King and his fiance!"
The chants unified and lifted Lia's heart up.
"Min, I'm sorry I'm late. I missed you!" anticipatingly she looked up to him, however, all she was met were his cold eyes that froze the blood in her veins.