The gods huddle closely in front of the large mirror, smirking and chattering quietly between themselves as they await their turn. No one can remember who exactly first came up with the idea or where the mirror had even come from, but they hadn't wasted a second in trying it out, calling out name after name and laughing with glee when the mirror ripples and a scene springs up.
Loitering above in the ceaseless sky, the gods rarely encounter as much passion and adventure as they had in their mortal years, but that thirst for something new and thrilling had never faded. Which leads us to this current gaggle of gods using a decidedly evil-looking mirror to watch the quotidian occurrences of their favorite mortal followers.
Almost all of the gods had taken a turn, leaving only Feng Xin, formally known as General Nan Yang, Mu Qing, formally known as General Xuan Zhen, and the Emperor, who seems content to just look on amusedly over the proceedings. The two generals look at each other with barely-concealed disdain, but also, interestingly, determination as if they had come to some sort of mutual understanding.
A miracle if one ever saw one, the other gods thought internally.
A tense silence permeates the room as the two generals walk forward in tandem; the other gods parting for them, practically vibrating with curiosity over which mortals they would inquire after. They make their way through the crowd till they are standing just a few inches away from the mirror. They hesitate for a second, then call out simultaneously: "Xie Lian."
The other heavenly officials bite back gasps, the silence from before turning into a furious wave of whispers. Away from everyone's eyes, the Emperor leans forward on his throne, an uncharacteristic flash of excitement shining in his eyes.
Even the gods that hadn't been alive during His Royal Highness the Crown Prince's ascensions knew of his fame as the scrap god who had lost everything. The Heavenly Courts had lost track of him a few centuries ago and never bothered to search too thoroughly after, but here was a chance to see how the banished immortal had fared. There was no doubt in their minds they were about to witness a humiliation unlike any other.
The mirror flickers then becomes still, showing a large elegantly decorated bedroom, where a man dressed in pristine white inner robes is sitting up on a bed, lovingly polishing a sword. The man is clearly Xie Lian, though that fact had to be helpfully pointed out to the crowd by one of the older gods who had been present during his first ascension. What did not have to be pointed out, however, was the identity of the sword, its bright gleaming eye giving it away as the sword of the abominable and feared Crimson Rain Sought Flower, Hua Cheng.
The gods explode, shoving each other to get a better look and screaming over each other as if they were engaged in a common tavern brawl. Different conjectures rise up amongst the crowd.
"Maybe he stole the sword?"
A martial god guffaws derisively, throwing his head back, before responding.
"Don't be ridiculous, he has no power. How could he steal Hua Cheng's sword?"
A civil god pipes in, fumbling with the bundle of scrolls in his arms.
"Maybe he's a servant?"
"If he is, he must be Hua Cheng's most trusted servant to have access to his sword...and his bed," the same god notes absentmindedly.
At that comment, the room falls silent. They had expected to find Xie Lian in some low gutter somewhere, scraping to get by. But surprisingly here he is: holding a sword that should have by all means run him through when he pressed a gentle kiss to the eye, but instead started shaking with joy, like a big, deadly dog.
Feng Xin and Mu Qing haven't spoken or made any noise at all; they are completely dumbfounded.
Though perhaps the prize for the most dumbfounded should be given to The Emperor, hidden carefully in the shadows, whose eyes are currently bugging out of his head in shock.
Xie Lian presses another tender kiss to the eye then sheathes the sword and lays it carefully on a table beside the bed, just as another man walks into the room, carrying a large tray full of side dishes. Xie Lian brightens up like a flower being graced by a ray of the sun, while thousands of miles up, the gods wilt in fear when they see the silver butterflies peeking out of the cuffs of the man's robes. Hua Cheng places the tray on Xie Lian's lap, sitting down beside him. The latter gives him a sweet kiss on the lips which is enthusiastically returned.
The gods are combusting.
Feng Xin and Mu Qing have turned so white they're almost translucent.
The Emperor seems to be in the middle of both a heart attack and a stroke.
And in the midst of all this drama, the two men take turns feeding each other in the most saccharine display of domesticity ever seen, talking and cuddling the entire time, oblivious to everything but each other.
In a fit of confused rage, Feng Xin punches the mirror, shattering it into a thousand pieces and relieving the rest of the heavenly officials of their misery. No one is quite sure of what to say next.
Someone scoffs angrily, then asks, "who came up with this stupid idea anyway?"
"Wasn't it Pei Ming?"
"No, wasn't it Shi Qingxuan?"
"Was it you?"
"Wasn't it you?"
The petty bickering soon turns into an all-out fist fight, blood and teeth flying out of a messy heap of gods grappling desperately with each other to forget what they had just seen.
Below, still lounging in bed, Xie Lian and his husband forgo continuing eating for kissing each other breathless, so happy and in love they feel like they could burst, unaware of the chaos they'd unwittingly caused. For them, it is just another mundane day of their lives, as it had been for two centuries, as it would be for many more to come.