Fanfiction 2: Moyuan and Bai Qian - Chapter 6, Part 2 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 6 - Drops of Rain

Part 2
written by Lalaloop
consulting by Juls
edited by kakashi

Bai Qian spent a great deal of the next few days dodging questions from her fourth brother and Zheyan. She and Moyuan seemed to have reached a silent agreement on acting outwardly normal while there were other people around. While Bai Qian found it a difficult task and decided to avoid him altogether, Moyuan continued to demonstrate this natural skill of his effortlessly.

Bai Qian felt Zheyan now found himself in between two people he deeply cared about who were unable to carry out a decent conversation or be in the same room without creating some wrenching tension.

“Of course I’d like to speak my mind,” Bai Qian said to Zheyan in a resentful tone after he had found der dusting one of the bookshelves in the study, “but I might get detention for it.” This was, of course, quite an unfair statement since she had noticed Moyuan’s effort to keep the usual superiority in his voice to the minimum during the few times they could not escape speaking.

“You know that isn't true,” replied Zheyan. “Of course, I'm not rushing anyone,” he added, “talk to him whenever you're ready” and left after giving Bai Qian a but-hopefully-soon look.

As it seemed, the news of her having second thoughts about the engagement had also reached Fengjiu somehow. The little fox grasped the situation to mean that Bai Qian might not have to become the Crown Princess after all and that she herself should not worry about taking the throne as Queen of Qingqiu. As a result, Fengjiu was brightened up a great deal and even started to cook again.

Fengjiu’s father, Bai Yi, insisted that it was absolutely unreasonable of her to cling on to hopes since the fact remained that the Stone of Reincarnation was not likely to change its mind anytime soon. But that did nothing to dampen Fengjiu’s spirit.

Too overwhelmed with all this contentment, Bai Qian decided to spend as much time with Zilan as she could, hoping his problem could help her forget about her own.

She also made a point to keep away whenever Moyuan played music on his zither.

The zither sound that was usually something she had looked forward to every evening had now become a source of irritation. Every note played was like a loud bang that aimed to disturb her peace and quiet. So it happened that when it was not her turn to watch over the Kunlun cauldron and when she was sure Changshan did not need any help, Bai Qian would go back to Qingqiu to be alone with her thoughts.

And this afternoon was one of those times.

Though the second Bai Qian entered the cave of Qingqiu, she heard Migu’s voice mentioning the very name she was trying hard to avoid.

“I don’t know, I think I’d put my money with High God Moyuan.”

Bai Qian hurried up the steps and rushed into the cave in astonishment to see Migu and Fengjiu at the rock table. Migu was holding up a silver coin.

“Gugu, you’re back!” Exclaimed Fengjiu, skipping over and clinging to Bai Qian’s arm. “Let me ask her,” she said to Migu.

“Gugu,” began Fengjiu as she started to walk Bai Qian to their table, “what would you do to let someone know you like them without actually saying the words out loud?”

Bai Qian’s forehead wrinkled, “Lord Donghua already knows how you…”

“Oh, no,” Fengjiu shook her head, “it's Migu, he's having his eye on a beautiful willow maiden,” she giggled.

Migu weakly grinned and scratched his head.

“Well…” Bai Qian was about to answer when she suddenly remembered, “hang on, you're distracting me,” she said impatiently. “What were you two going on about before I came in?” She asked, her brows almost touching.

“Oh, we were just discussing a scenario,” said Fengjiu casually as if this was something entertaining. “Fourth Uncle was wondering yesterday if High God Moyuan and the Crown Prince ever got into a fight, who would win.”

“I’m glad to see you two making the best of my misery,” Bai Qian glared at them angrily then stomped over and seized the coin back from Migu. As her arm swung backward, it slipped out of her hand and flew across the cave, but she didn’t care. “But you might want to…”

Just then, the noise of the little coin hitting something made the three of them turn their heads.

And before the they could do anything, the Soul Gathering Lamp fell from the stand from across the cave, hit the ground and shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces.

“The lamp!” Fengjiu put her hands over her mouth, whimpering, “No…we’re going to be in trouble...”

Bai Qian ran over to the lamp with Fengjiu and Migu close behind. They all then stooped down and frantically tried to pick up the splinters and put them together again somehow, though Bai Qian knew very well it was no good.

It was then a thin fog came out from the shards and started swirling around them. Bai Qian felt an intense cold running down her spine, sinking deep into her skin. She looked up to see Fengjiu and Migu’s befuddled faces, indicating they were feeling the same thing.

As Bai Qian attempted to move closer to them, her hand slightly swept over the broken glass. She gasped - the sharp edges pricked her fingers and palm. She was bleeding.

Then there was a hissing sound.

Her surroundings vanished. Fengjiu and Migu’s figures began to fade as the image of two other people took their place - two people dressed in red, bowing in front of a cottage. The man stepped closer to the woman beside him - his face brimmed with joy as if he was the happiest man on earth - gently lifting the her red veil, revealing her face…

“Gugu,” Fengjiu’s small voice was pleading. “Gugu, wake up.”

Bai Qian opened her eyes - the rock ceiling indicated she was in her room at Qingqiu. Her face was drenched in tears and cold sweat, her heart thumping wildly.

“Fengjiu, did you see it?” Bai Qian sprang up, threw her hair back and seized Fengjiu’s arm, “from the shards?”

“See what, Gugu?” Asked Fengjiu in a scared voice.

“It was a trial, my trial. That's how I became a high goddess. But he and…” Bai Qian stopped instantly when she realized there were more people standing at the foot of the bed. Zheyan was folding his arms, leaning forward to look at her closely; and beside him stood Moyuan with his customary calmness. Bai Qian gulped - having someone here who could almost always tell what she was thinking was the last thing she needed.

They cannot know, it’s too complicated. She thought and inhaled deeply, wiping the lingering tears from her face. As she was doing so, Bai Qian suddenly picked up a sort of wintry but pleasantly familiar smell coming from somewhere very near.

“You passed out,” said Zheyan, Fengjiu stood up so he could take her place on the bedside. He immediately took her pulse. “Hmm… I still don’t see anything wrong,” he lifted her chin and felt her forehead, “it seems you’re perfectly fine. How are you feeling?”

“Er… dizzy,” Bai Qian swallowed.

“That’s normal, absolutely normal,” he assured, peering into her eyes.

Zheyan was right, there was nothing wrong with her physically. The fog might have rendered her bewildered, but her miserable state had more to do with what she had seen.

“It was scary,” said Fengjiu and Moyuan nodded in understanding. “I was shaking all over. Migu said he felt like winter.”

Bai Qian looked at Fengjiu in relief - so no one had seen what she had.

“Yes, the Soul Gathering Lamp was an object with dark forces,” said Zheyan with a hint of scolding in his voice, “an artifact that held many mysteries which I doubt even the Heavenly Father himself had the chance to explore. It was meant to be handled with care and preferably not be broken. Luckily for you three, our family is on good terms with the Celestial Tribe. Let's hope they overlook this one.” He chuckled.

“Perfect, I need to go somewhere right away, so if you...” she attempted to rise but Zheyan placed a hand on her shoulder and forced her back down.

“You said you saw something from the broken pieces?” He asked curiously “Tell me, I need to know if it was anything sinister.”

“I didn't. It was probably just… a dream,” she lied, flushing and desperate to leave the room.

“Are you sure?” Zheyan asked again. “There’s a theory, and not without evidence I daresay, that the Soul Gathering Lamp can possess people, lure them into a dream-like state and tamper with their mind, cause them to forget certain information.”

Bai Qian’s mouth fell slightly ajar, “no, I haven’t forgotten anything.”

“Do you feel any different?” Said Moyuan’s concerned voice from behind Zheyan, “confused? Dejected?”

“No,” Bai Qian shook her head impatiently and answered in a small voice. She wanted to ask why he had taken the trouble to travel down to Qingqiu when he had not fully recovered and was only slowly getting better. But deciding that she'd rather offer her soul to the Bell of Donghuang than get caught saying something nice to Moyuan, she lowered her head.

Her eyes then caught sight of something that looked like a small handkerchief wrapped around her injured palm. She brought her hand close to her face. The scent - she noticed.

There was some hasty footsteps, and seconds later, Migu came striding in, holding a tray on which there was a cup with smoke swirling on the top.

“High God Zheyan, the medicine that you asked for.”

“Medicine?” Repeated Bai Qian, looking at Migu as if he just told a bad joke.

“Very good,” Zheyan held out a hand in Migu’s direction. The tree spirit walked over and handed him the cup.

“Drink this, Xiaowu, you’ll feel better.”

“What… no!” Bai Qian was mortified that everyone was making such a fuss about the situation. She shook her head decidedly and jumped up, distancing herself from the cup, feeling greatly insulted, “really, I’m fine.”

“Yes, yes, you are, this is just for precaution.” Zheyan insisted. “Drink it, it’s a little bitter but I’ve told Migu to put in a lot of that Kunlun Peach Blossom Honey.”

“He’s right, Seventeenth,” Moyuan spoke. And just when Bai Qian didn't think it was possible to hate him more, he added, “whatever it is you intend to do, you need to be at least of sound mind.”

She grimaced at the cup. Like her fourth brother, she was never too thrilled about taking medicine. And most of all, medicine was not what she needed at the moment. “I don’t want to,” she said with a finality in her voice.

“Very well,” Moyuan took one large step towards Zheyan, and to Bai Qian’s horror, reached for the cup in his hand.

Unlike Zheyan, Moyuan had always been adamant and rather austere in the way he handled stubborn young people and children who refused to take medicine, especially his own disciples and even those whom he favored above the others.

No disciple of mine is afraid of a little discomfort from bitter medicine, Moyuan’s gentle but strict voice echoed in her head as Bai Qian recalled that one time Zilan had flinched at the sight of some medicine as she was now.

No matter how they resisted, Moyuan would always have a way to force down the particular medicine, or rather, to make them feel they'd rather swallow the stuff than deal with the consequences. Under different circumstances, Bai Qian would be more than happy to see what the consequences might be. But now was not the time.

I’d say just get it over with, it’s for your own good, was what Changshan would suggest in such a case.

Bai Qian didn’t waste another moment, she dashed forward, grabbed the cup and drained it in one gulp. The taste was not as bad as she thought, and it seemed a large amount of honey had been dissolved in it. Then, she set down the cup with just enough force to let Moyuan know how ridiculous she thought this whole thing was.

“Marvelous,” Zheyan smirked, patting her head and standing up while Moyuan retreated to where he had stood. “You must share your secret with me, Moyuan, getting Zhenzhen to take his medicine is always an arduously difficult job.”

Then to Bai Qian, he smiled and said, “get some rest,” to which she nodded airily.

“I’ll be getting back to Kunlun now, the elixir should be done shortly.” Zheyan turned around and exited the cave. Moyuan hesitated for a brief moment then followed him after receiving a bow from Fengjiu and Bai Qian each.

As he walked past her, a faint whiff of the scent she had inhaled from the handkerchief swifted by.

Bai Qian glanced down at her hand, then looked up and stared at his figure until he disappeared behind the cave door.

“Maybe I should have left,” Fengjiu commented, “High God Moyuan looked like he wanted to ask you something.” Perhaps the little fox was not wrong, but Bai Qian did not have the time or the desire to tell her so.

“Fengjiu,” she wheeled around, “did I say anything when I was unconscious?”

“No, Gugu, you didn’t.” Fengjiu said after taking her time to think.

Bai Qian sighed in relief and lowered her voice, “I have to go see someone, don’t tell Zheyan or anyone else.”

“Where are you going?” Fengjiu asked.

“Don't worry, I’ll be back soon.” Bai Qian simply shook her head then turned to Migu, “and you, I suppose you know what to do now?”

“Wha… What are you talking about, Gugu?” he stuttered and exchanged a look with Fengjiu.

“Isn't it obvious?” jeered Bai Qian with a shrug. “If you're still wondering how to impress your willow maiden, ask High God Moyuan what he would do, and do the exact opposite.”

She then spun around and darted away as Migu still stood confounded and Fengjiu’s calling voice faded into the background.

Someone who knows but is unconnected, Bai Qian searched her brain for such a person while she was on her way to the Nine Heaven Palace, her heart speeding up. Then it suddenly hit her.

The two guards at the front gate, as usual, held out their weapons to ask for identification.

“Bai Qian of Qingqiu,” she announced before they had to ask.

“Thank you, would you please present…” began one of the guards in a robotic voice. And again, Bai Qian saved him the trouble and herself some time by quickly reaching into her sleeve pocket and drawing out the fan of Kunlun.

“I request an audience with the Star Lord of Taichen Palace.”

Chapter 6, Part 3