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Sweet Regret: The Empress and the Two Emperors. To My Dear Friend, Shauna Bowling


Manatita is an esteemed author living in London, UK. He writes spiritual books, flash fiction and esoteric poetry, his favourite genre.

"That which is bitter to endure, may be sweet to remember." - Ann Weale


Sweet Regret

Caged within the Palace walls; unable to leave, Empress Li-Jen was sick, tired and exhausted. She yearned for the simple life with the father and grandmother that she knew. Caught up in the toxic atmosphere of betrayals, deceit and power struggles within the walls of the Palace, she became ill and longed to escape. Yet the Prince Chu Zu had deposed his elder brother, the Emperor; was now the Emperor himself and of course he would never let her leave.

The Palace had given Li-Jen some perks all right: Power, outer opulence, servants and the facility – even though many were against it – to practice her medical knowledge. She was very skilled! Yet within those corridors of dark energies, she was subjected to numerous schemes, assaulted and almost lost her life several times via drowning, poison and other wily schemes.

Empress Li-Jen was humiliated, beaten and abused by the Emperor’s Concubine, his mother, who favoured this dark but insecure, powerful and extremely clever woman. To survive, Li-Jen was truly a cat of many lives!

She regretted the marriage title, she cried when the then Prince, took her dignity that horrible night against her will, as she was almost on the verge of walking away … knew she had made the wrong choice. Yet, she was a victim of her nature, always trying to do her best … fighting the cause of the oppressed servants, within the Palace walls. Meanwhile, the in-fighting went on and never stopped.

Things came to a head after Empress Li-Jen became pregnant. The Concubine had also become an Empress through marriage, in this funny world of Dynasty politics. She’d lost her child in pregnancy and decided the only way to stop Empress Li-Jen from having one, was to poison her with a traceless poison, the poison of all poisons! So heartless she was!

Life took a turn for the worst as the Emperor Chu Zu, coming home late and tired, visited the room of Empress Li-Jen. She had attempted to take the poisoned tea brought by a malicious servant, but finding it hot, placed it on the table for a few seconds, as the Emperor walked in. Thirsty, and seeing the tea on the table, he picked it up and drank it all.

So clever was that poison made, that Emperor Chu Zu felt no ill effects for three days. Yet when they came, they came heavily and the Emperor bleed profusely, sweated and pleaded with Empress Li-Jen to save his life. She tried.

His brother Li Bai rushed over and the Palace brought the best physicians to look after him. Alas! He lived only for 10 days, long enough to change his ways, to hand the Emperor back his KIngdom by Royal decree … to hear the schemes of his Empress Concubine and his mother exposed. Not a nice way to enter Jannah, Paradise.

Not long afterwards, Empress Li-Jen, who was also pregnant, was pushed over deliberately and suffered a miscarriage. It was thought she would die and she remained in bed for many months, not saying much, dealing with her vulnerabilities, loneliness, regrets and fears. One day, feeling strong enough, she disguised as a soldier with the help of her servant and left the Palace quickly, without the slightest turn of her head, never to return.


The younger love


Li- Jen was blessed with immaculate beauty! Her eyes shone like moonlight, caressing the night with its lustre; her smile as radiant as the morning’s sunrise. She walked as if she was adorned with sunflowers, swaying in the gentle breeze. Her poise and dignity, that of a swan in elegant flight.

Li-Jen was a mixture of sweetness and simplicity, as well as benevolence and generosity. She was not into status and wealth, and perhaps her only claim to fame, was that her father was known as a brave and courageous General in the Emperor’s army. She grew up with her grandmother, who taught her all she knew, including herbal medicine, as her mother was killed by schemers of the Court, in suspicious circumstances. A wrong righted much later.

A promising young medical Herbalist, she was often found feeding the poor; tending to their ailments, at the foot of a Shaolin Monastery. The Chinese did not like women practicing medicine in those days, and Li-Jen suffered many insults and even physical abuse. The female Abbott liked her very much, shielding and encouraging Li-Jen in her noble endeavours, and they became close friends.

Li-Jen was soon known for her medical expertise. The people said that she was Zhu fú (Blessed), and some called her Guan Yin (Saviour or Bodhisattva), because she served so many in distress. This increased as the word spread about this female doctress, who was healing the sick for practically no money at all. Call it good fortune or ill-luck, it was here that she met Emperor Li Bai, the first of the two brothers, both of whom, would heavily impact her life.

Guan Yin (Li-Jen), was of age for love and marriage, and her father wanted to find her a husband. Grandma was happy for her, but did not wish to force it. Guan Yin was as wise as she was charming, and this idea of finding someone did play on her mind for a bit. So, when the Emperor came running, she did not exactly discourage his advances.

Li Bai was handsome and intelligent, but somewhat shy and also weak. Probably brought about by the fact that the Empress Dowager still held a lot of power and his brother Chu Zu, was equally influential in the Palace.

Chu Zu was more of an opportunist, easily swayed by those courtiers and eunuchs with their own selfish agenda’s. He also had a wicked an ambitious mother and a very cold-hearted Concubine, who would do literally anything to protect her Princely lover. She also wanted to become an Empress as well.

For whatever reason, both the Emperor and his brother, were travelling incognito when they met Guan Yin. Put simply, she was unable to make the connection, did not know who they were. To make matters worse, neither brother knew who the other was seeing until the Emperor found them together one evening, by then it was too late, for he had agreed to Chu Zu’s marriage.

The Emperor was devastated, doing his best to hide his sorrow. Yet he was also married and had a virtuous wife. He met Guan Yin initially at the Monastery, and Chu Zu came to her aid on the way home, when her carriage, granted by the Emperor, broke down on the way home.

For now, let us stick with the Emperor. He was enamoured with Guan Yin at first sight, showering her with gifts, including a golden bangle, which, even through the pendulum of life, she never removed. They became very fond of each other, a relationship that was to continue long after she entered the Palace and long after she left.

The one she finally loved



Emperor Li Bai never really recovered after he discovered that it was Guan Yin that his brother loved. He had to put up a face ... to pretend, but would use every opportunity to see her and she always felt comforted. Not so his brother, who was extremely furious with jealousy and rage and mistreated his 21-yr old elder brother several times.

Yet the Emperor loved Guan Yin and he loved the people. It was this love of the people, common to Guan Yin, and the care and concern of the Emperor, as well as his big-heartedness and clarity of vision, his support for women, that Guan Yin loved so much. This trait took them both into battle and they barely survived. However, in his absence, his brother became powerful in the Palace and, add a little spin, which ultimately led to the older brother’s downfall.

Years have passed and the Emperor has a son who is still young but old enough to take the throne with ministerial support. Li Bai’s wife has died. So, one lonely day, he does what Empress Li-Jen did and leaves the Palace, never to return.


Quan yin has made a name for herself studying all forms of medicine. She heals numerous souls as well as bodies and becomes very popular. She has written many books and her fame spreads throughout the kingdom. Yet she’s unhappy, full of regrets.

One day, she takes a stroll into her garden, looks at her golden bangle and begins to cry. She hears a sound and turns around. She sees Emperor Li Bai standing there with a copy of her book in his hands. They both react at the same time and rush into each other’s arms, embracing …

_ Manatita, The Lantern Carrier. 16th July, 2021

Note. The writing and embellishments are all mines, but the story is inspired by a Chinese movie


Love stories

© 2021 manatita44


manatita44 (author) from london on July 20, 2021:

Gratitude, my Brother. Happy Guru Purnima!

MG Singh emge from Singapore on July 19, 2021:

This is a nice tale and written beautifully. Thanks for sharing.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 19, 2021:

Ha-ha. Only when you're in Paradise. Chuckle. Pleasure and pain are interwoven and the soul was born free. Nuff of that!

Happy and guilty that you came, as you seem to have a lot to do. Sorry about the Characters. I think some of the flaws lie in the fact there were two Emperors, like two Popes. Initially confusing. I also called Li-Jen 'Guan Yin'. That was the people's name, like Bill calling you Sha. Ha-ha.

Sorry this one is a long one. I'm not Linda Crampton, so people prefer my shorter works. Kudos to you for gracing this Hub with your presence.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 19, 2021:

Manatita, I love your story, although, I too found it a bit difficult to keep track of the characters. Thank you for this lovely tribute and the happy ending. All's well that ends well, right?

manatita44 (author) from london on July 18, 2021:

Hello Linda L,

You're well? Great to see you, my Dear. Thank you for reading my penultimate work. Appreciations!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 18, 2021:

You've told a very interesting story that contains some intriguing characters. It's always nice to discover another tribute article from you.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 17, 2021:

Gratitude Devika.

I go through feed. It can go up on down. One has to scroll. Not a good system, I know. The current format puts many off. Thanks all the same

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 17, 2021:

manatita44 I have missed some of your hubs and most of the time don't find find it here. Thank you for a superb hub!

manatita44 (author) from london on July 16, 2021:

Thank you Rosina. Many Blessings from above, Allah's Grace.

Rosina S Khan on July 16, 2021:

Thank you for this wonderful story. I really enjoyed it. Certainly a beautiful tribute to Shauna. Wish you a good weekend, Manatita.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 16, 2021:

Thanks my Didi ji. I'm a story-teller. It's in so many poems you don't see! In fact I have 1500 poems and used to mix poetry and Flash Fiction in early life. So Yes, I'm a Creative Writer who does many different things. I just prefer now to serve in a spiritual way. I also tell stories in my books.

Thank you for the kind complement. I'll see your work later. Om Shanti!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 16, 2021:

An engaging love story, and a beautiful tribute to Shauna. Love stories with happy endings are the best. I enjoyed reading it, and also happy to note your talent, as a good storyteller.

Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful weekend.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 16, 2021:

Sweet Pamela, I thank you. Hope you are well. Much Peace.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 16, 2021:

This interesting story is a lovely tribute to Shauna, who is someone I care about as a friend. I very much enjoyed reading this story.

Blessings to you, Manatita.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 16, 2021:


Thank you so much, my Brother. Nearly always the first to grace my page. Gratitude!

Thanks John. (Chuckle) We both know one of them, methinks? Confusing to me too, like two reigning Emperors, like two Popes. I also changed Li-jen's name also. She had her given name and the people's name, not so difficult. But the story needs to be followed closely. Thank you so much!

P.S. Chinese soaps have amazing and very complex plots. This is quite simple in comparison.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 16, 2021:

A very detailed love story and quite well-written manatita. There seemed to be a lot of characters and I eventually became a little confused with who was who. I think that was mainly due to the Chinese names though “Li-Jen” was no problem. Well done though.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 16, 2021:

Sha is one of my oldest and dearest friends on HP, and she deserves all of the tributes she receives. This one is beautiful but then, I expect that from you, Manatita. A wonderful way to begin my day.

love to you both

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