Fanfiction 2: Moyuan and Bai Qian - Chapter 10, Part 3 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 10 - The Fox Empress

Part 3

written by Lalaloop
edited by kakashi

“One pinch of this powder,” Changshan smiled, stirring the shimmering liquid in the pot with a wooden spoon. “One pinch shouldn’t change anything.”

During the last few days, he had spent lots of time trying to find a way to make Zheyan’s medicine for Moyuan more drinkable since he could tell from its bitter smell that the taste must be horrible. He had done so many times in the past for his Juniors whenever any of them complained about their medicine. He had confidence he would be able to do it this time as well despite the complicated nature of the potion. Maybe it was also a matter of personal pride: Being a cook, it bothered him to see someone wince and frown every time he walked into their room with a tray.

And, not daring to sample the life-shortening taste of the medicine himself, Changshan could only wait for Moyuan’s reaction every time he came up with a new way to alter the bitterness. Every time, he received an approving nod and a grateful smile, yet judging from Moyuan’s face while taking the medicine, Changshan believed he was still far from successful.

Despite his Shifu’s insistence on drinking the medicine as it was, Changshan did not believe any being should be put through such torture three times a day, especially after what he had seen the night everyone had come back from Ruoshui River - he shuddered.


After making sure that no one else needed medicine or healing or refreshments, Changshan went back to his room and dropped into bed. But after what seemed like only an hour, he was shaken awake by his Senior.

“Changshan, wake up. Wake up!”

“Wha… what is it?” asked Changshan, rubbing his eyes, squinting at Diefeng to see he was wearing a cloak over his white garments.

“Do you know the potion High God Zheyan has just made from the cauldron tonight?”

“Yes?” Changshan nodded groggily, still wondering why Diefeng was asking him this in the middle of the night.

“Get two goblets of that stuff and bring it to Shifu’s room,” said Diefeng, whose trembling voice told him he’d better get up quickly.

“What... why? What happened?” Changshan pulled on his boots.

“Just do it quickly, he needs it now. And don’t wake Sixteenth or Seventeenth.”

With that, Diefeng darted from the room.

“All right,” Changshan scrambled out of bed, flung his own cloak over himself and ran to the Potion room instantly. Sleepiness almost made him stumble a few times but his feet found the room he was supposed to go to at last.

As he walked in, both Zheyan and the Fox Empress were present. The latter was standing in front of Moyuan, lowering her arm to retract her magic. It seemed she too had just perform a healing spell of some kind. Zheyan, looking rather exhausted, caught Moyuan as he was about to fall onto his bed.

Kneeling on the ground was Diefeng. Though what lay next to him was what made Changshan’s mouth drop in horror - a pile of bloody white robes that looked like they had been cut in many places.

So his wounds were acting up again, it didn’t take Changshan long to register the facts. He silently murmured his thanks to whoever had discovered Moyuan’s condition and informed Zheyan in time.

Zheyan pointed at the tray when he saw Changshan walking closer, gesturing him to bring it closer. He obeyed with no questions. Then, the Phoenix High God quickly picked up one of the goblets and placed it in Moyuan’s hand.

“Take this,” he said under his breath.

And it was then that Changshan knew why he’d had to bring two goblets. Upon taking one sip of the liquid, Moyuan, who looked to be half unconscious and very much unaware of his surroundings, dropped the goblet with a gasp and went into a violent coughing fit. The potion was spilled on the floor, making Changshan jump and nearly drop his tray.

“Give it here, Changshan,” said Zheyan, gesturing at the other goblet on the tray.

This time, Zheyan stepped closer to the bed, placed one hand on Moyuan’s shoulder and with the other brought the goblet close his mouth to make sure it would not get dropped or thrown away again, looking more like a physician than Changshan had ever seen in his life - a seriously concerned one for that matter.

“Take it. You have to,” Zheyan’s voice was slightly shaking yet quite stern still. “Else you wouldn’t be able to sleep with the pain.”

The nasty potion was making Moyuan splutter as it went down his throat and making Changshan and Diefeng grimace in revulsion. And they both could tell from Zheyan’s deeply furrowed brows that he wanted nothing more than for this to be over.

From where she stood, the Fox Empress was watching them with surveying eyes. She didn’t look as worried as Zheyan, her expression was rather mingled with curiosity.

Setting down the goblet, Zheyan let out a sigh of relief and shook his head as Moyuan dropped back down onto the bed. He then walked over to where the Fox Empress stood and joined her in watching Diefeng proudly demonstrating his attentiveness to the fullest.

“Why did he do that?” asked the Fox Empress in a low voice, her arms folded.

“He was afraid Yehua would have to feel the pain. But there’s nothing he can do now, their link is much too strong.”

“Indeed,” her soft voice agreed. “And they are both in pain, it’s most futile.”

“It is a habit he can't help, I'm afraid.”

Changshan rose from the bedside and collected the empty goblets, putting them back on the tray.

“Where did the other three come from?” he heard the Fox Empress speak again. “They look different.”

From the corner of his eyes, he could see Zheyan whispering something to her. Curious yet unable to understand what she was referring too, Changshan found himself glancing at The Fox Empress while waiting for his Senior to finish. He realized her face was rather bewildered for a long moment, then her brows slowly relaxed again.

“Hmm,” her humming voice continued, concern etched on her face yet at the same time, looking as though she was planning for a festival. “‘Greatest pain in the world’, I see.”

“High God Zheyan,” said Diefeng, standing up at last. “You should have some rest. I can tend to Shifu.”

“No,” Zheyan held up a hand. “I’ll stay.”

“But you’re tired,” Diefeng insisted.

“Yes, but I’d like to remain close in case my assistance is required. Now --” he looked at them both, “-- Moyuan will have to begin his meditation as soon as tomorrow. So if one of you can run along and make sure the room is ready for use, I would greatly appreciate it.”

“Yes, High God,” they replied obediently. And after Diefeng had collected the white garments from the floor, they turned toward the exit.

“Diefeng, Changshan,” called Zheyan and they both turned around. “There’s no need to tell any of your Juniors about this.”

“Yes, High God,” they said, looking at one another.

Zheyan stepped closer to them, “I have dealt with Moyuan’s injuries. They are within my control. Zilan and Bai Qian are still recovering; don’t cause them to panic, do you understand?”

“Yes,” they both said again.

The Fox Empress’ lips curved while Changshan stood wondering how in the world anyone could smile in this situation.


“Can’t he just swallow a spoon of Peach Blossom Honey when he’s done with the medicine?” Seventeenth had suggested during one time she was in here to look for almond cookies.

“No, Seventeenth, that’s what we do for children,” Changshan rolled his eyes. “Besides, Shifu didn’t ask me to do anything with the taste. I just want to, that’s all.”

Seventeenth, Changshan shook his head and chuckled, rolling up his sleeves and getting ready for another try at the sweetener. Things had been quiet at Kunlun with both Zilan and Siyin gone. Changshan had started to miss having them around, something he suspected their Shifu also felt, but like himself, would rather swallow some more of this potion than admit out loud.

The morning of her departure, he had found Seventeenth sitting on the steps leading to the meditation room with a book in her hand and what looked like some of the treats that she had no doubt taken from Kunlun kitchen. Absorbed in her reading, she still glanced up at the sealed entrance once in awhile. Changshan suppressed a laugh at her silly expression, of course Shifu wasn’t going to come out.

Though, touched to see that she was not so careless about their Shifu’s condition like he’d thought, Changshan had quietly chuckled then ran to the kitchen and brought her more of his food so she would have something to remember Kunlun by during the time away.

After accepting the sweets and other snacks from him, they’d had the chance to talk for a while before the Fox Empress came. As he had sat down next to her, Changshan caught sight of a sort of fabric around her wrist with some simple embroidery that looked awfully familiar. He could have sworn he had seen it more than once before. Though before he could make out what it was, her long sleeve had covered it up again.

The first day Seventeenth came to Kunlun, Changshan recalled, he had not had a very good impression of his Junior. The challenging look on her face when the fan had flown into her hand, her bossy attitude yet willingness to break rules when it benefited her, had irritated him to no end. Changshan had to admit it had even once been his secret ambition to get her expelled from Kunlun.

But now, just like the rest of them, Seventeenth and Sixteenth had become an irreplaceable part of their lives. Especially after Lingyu’s death, the sixteen of them felt the need to be around one another as much as they could. And Changshan would never in his lifetime forget the incident that had brought him closer to them both, or rather, had made him find it easier to pardon them whenever they snuck into the kitchen or the wine cellar afterwards.

Now, he somehow felt Seventeenth’s presence was needed at Kunlun, in whichever way that might be. Among a good number of reasons, the best was that if there were no one to break the rules, he would never have the chance to recite the rules.

Afterwards, they were joined by Diefeng, who walked past the area and decided he could spare some time for his Junior before she had to leave, and who once again confirmed to Seventeenth that people usually did not take casual breaks from healing meditation.

“I know,” said Seventeenth with a feeble smile, keeping her head down, sniffing. “I was just hoping that he would.”

Their conversation had carried out for so long since all three were unwilling to end it that only when the Fox Empress threatened to leave her behind did Seventeenth run after her to the gate for their departure, but not before she had given them both a hug, making them flustered.

There might have been tears spilling out from her eyes as she ran from them, it was hard to tell. But then, Changshan laughed at the notion, there shouldn’t have been anything to cry about.

After Seventeenth had gone, Changshan felt it was most fortunate that the Crown Prince’s family had finally agreed to bring him to Kunlun for healing. Even though he still seemed to be unconscious, his presence seemed to have significantly lifted Moyuan’s mood. More absorbed in thoughts he had been, but undoubtedly happier.

Lady Lexu, who once had objected to the idea for reasons unknown to them, had had to admit that there was no better choice to make her son recover sooner. Upon their arrival at Kunlun, she had looked extremely disagreeable and had treated her own servants as well as other people with impatience until Prince Yangcuo went out of his way to remind her that it hadn’t been the people of Kunlun who’d shot lightning bolts at the Crown Prince or made him throw himself into the Bell of Donghuang.

Afterwards, they met with no further problems.

“Oh!” Changshan slapped his forehead. Being lost in thought had caused him to mishandle the potion again. He must have missed one of the steps or had put in too much sweet powder for brown smoke instead of silver was now rising from the brewing pot.

“I’m really, really sorry, Shifu,” he lamented with a frown while staring down at the substance inside the pot. Then, he sank into the wooden stool, resting against the wall in hopelessness, though decidedly glad he wasn't the one to have to drink the nasty potion.


“Thank you, Changshan,” said Moyuan, glancing at the three goblets Changshan had just brought into his study, looking as if someone had just forced him to eat Seventeenth’s cooking.

“I tried to do something about the taste again today, Shifu. But High God Zheyan said I shouldn't tamper too much or the medicine would lose its effectiveness.”

“Don't worry, Changshan. That is quite all right,” he smiled.

No, it isn't. Changshan sighed. But he supposed swallowing bitterness, in whatever form, had always been their Shifu’s renowned ability.

“I reckon anything is better than Seventeenth’s ideas, one of which is to melt sugar cubes directly into the pot while brewing the potion.”

Changshan suddenly looked up at his Shifu, who was in the process of picking up a goblet. When he had told Moyuan of Seventeenth’s trip days ago, aside from a flicker of emotion that had flashed through his face, there hadn’t been much of a reaction. The only thing different was that it had taken him longer than usual to form a response, which was a simple ‘I see’.

But when Changshan saw Moyuan’s hand suddenly coming to a subtle stop and his fingers recoiling a little as they reached the goblet, he was not quite sure if it had been the right thing to mention his youngest Junior.

“And did you tell her that in Potion, the instructions are there for a purpose?” asked Moyuan, taking a goblet, his free hand rubbing his temple.

“Yes, I did. Messing with the process can yield a completely different result.” Changshan laughed. “Potion has never been Seventeenth’s best subject. But we all know she always tends to be bossy even in subjects she doesn’t know much about.”

Moyuan looked at him, half astonished.

“Don’t worry, Shifu,” Changshan assured him with a wide grin. “All of us have called Seventeenth ‘bossy’ at least once in our lives. Zilan does it everyday. She’s used to it.” He joked in a low voice, “and she can’t say anything this time. She’s not here.”

Moyuan unexpectedly broke into a laugh - the first laugh Changshan had seen in days. But it was short lived despite Changshan’s effort to laugh along and prolong the moment.

“No,” his eyes left Changshan, now looking blankly at the front again as he quickly drank the potion. “No, she is not.”

A long silence went by where Changshan decided perhaps he and Diefeng should leave the task of entertaining their Shifu to his young Juniors from now on. Not only had he failed, the attempt had also caused him to feel strangely sad inside.

“I’d like to take a walk,” declared Moyuan, putting down the empty goblet as he slowly got up. But just as Changshan had predicted, he only got as far as on his feet when he suddenly staggered.

“Shifu, you haven’t finished the medicine!” Changshan sprang up and caught his arm.

“I’ll take the rest of it later,” he said.

“Shifu, please sit down!” Changshan raised his voice, no longer caring if he was speaking out of turn. “Or I will have to tell High God Zheyan!”

At this, Moyuan stared at Changshan for a brief moment. A strange expression appeared on his face, something that looked almost like a smile - a smile that had been there briefly before he'd had to cloud jump to Ruoshui River that night. Changshan, who saw nothing funny about this at all, frowned hard and prayed Moyuan would listen to him before he collapsed and they would really have to send for the Phoenix High God.

“Yes, sit down, Moyuan,” Zheyan’s calm voice rang behind them. Changshan turned to see he was approaching, staring at a piece of paper in his hand, with Diefeng close behind. His Senior quickly bowed and took his leave as Zheyan walked in. “There’s no need to keep frightening your disciples when you can help it.”

“Kunlun has also received an invitation, I see,” said Zheyan, holding up the piece of paper he had been looking at, which Changshan realized was the invitation from the Fox Emperor to the Gathering of Immortals at the end of next month they’d received a few days ago.

Sinking back down on his dais, Moyuan said nothing.

“How are you?” asked Zheyan.

“Better,” replied Moyuan with his eyes closed. “Thank you.”

“Changshan, how is he?” the Phoenix High God turned to him.

“Er --,” Changshan stuttered from the unexpected question, trying to stop himself from smiling along with Zheyan. “Shifu is doing better.”

“Very good,” said Zheyan, seating himself at the table on the right of the bed, eyeing the goblets on the tray, giving them satisfied smirks. “How's the pain on your arm?”

“No matter,” he cleared his throat. “The pain -- I can handle.”

Changshan craned forward eagerly, hoping Moyuan would go on to tell them what he could not handle. But to his disappointment, Moyuan only continued with his medicine with a detached expression and no indication he would say anything else.

“Donghua and I are going,” Zheyan continued, which Changshan guessed was about the Gathering. “Will we all have the pleasure of seeing the Master of Kunlun there?”

“I’m not in a condition to go anywhere,” Moyuan replied. “A fact I’m quite sure Bai Zhi and the Fox Empress are well aware of.”

“It is at the end of the coming month. You should have plenty of time to meditate and recover before then, I believe.” Looking at Moyuan, Zheyan added. “I wouldn’t turn down an invitation to a Gathering of Immortals. It’s always interesting no matter who the host is or where it is held. A perfect event for younger immortals to associate with their elders and likewise. I imagine Xiaowu is thrilled at the moment.” Zheyan looked out the window, pouring himself some tea.

“Yes,” said Moyuan rather curtly. “Seventeenth never turns down an opportunity to broaden her horizon, she never has been able to - an academic attitude I expect all Kunlun disciples to adopt.” Then, he drained the last of his medicine and set the goblet back down on the tray, the finality in his voice hinted he no longer wished to continue the conversation.

“Bai Zhi and Shishi have been preparing for it for weeks before the Ruoshui River incident,” continued Zheyan, ignoring Moyuan’s lack of interest. “The list of guests is rather appealing, I daresay.”

It took Changshan a while to figure out who ‘Shishi’ was. It was foreign to his ears how Seventeenth’s mother was so casually addressed.

“I’m sure it is,” said Moyuan, sounding almost as bored as Lord Donghua always did, picking up the last goblet and draining it within seconds. It seemed the terrible taste did not bother him this time around.

“So will you consider it then?” asked Zheyan again.

“I cannot give any promise. But in any case, let us wait for Zilan to come back from his trip. Should anything arise to prevent me from attending this Gathering, you can take him and any other of my disciples who wishes to go. It's been quite long, Seventeenth must be dying to see him. And Princess Yanzhi, too.”

Changshan quietly made a cheerful sound and grinned to himself - Moyuan would never deprive his disciples the chance to attend any event that proved beneficial to them just because he himself was unable to go or had no inclination to do so.

“Thoughtful,” commented Zheyan. “And -- It might interest you to know that Puhua is also coming.”

Lord Puhua? Changshan recalled during a conversation with Zilan in the kitchen, Seventeenth had once or twice mentioned she would like an audience with this Lord Puhua if possible. This should be perfect then, as far as they all knew, Lord Puhua rarely left his post at the Nine Heavens, least of all to attend social gatherings - a fantastic opportunity for the know-it-all to talk to him. Changshan silently chuckled as he imagined the look on Seventeenth’s face when she had finally found the answer to whatever problem she had been sulking over.

“Lovely arrangement,” said Moyuan, who didn’t sound like he really meant it. Then, he turned and asked in the forbidding voice he usually used in warfare debates, glaring straight at Zheyan after a deep exhale. “Whose idea was that?”

“Puhua is among the intellectual elites, of course he is invited. And like you said, any academically driven young immortal would seize this opportunity to ask him all the questions in the world, questions about his area of expertise he would gladly provide answers to.”

“I know Puhua would be invited,” Moyuan’s eyes narrowed. “But he usually doesn’t attend gatherings of any kind.”

“He will this time.”

“Was this on purpose?” Moyuan’s eyes briefly flashed before he let out an exhausted sigh while Changshan started to feel he’d missed something for he didn’t have any idea what the two of them were going on about.

“Unlike me and Donghua,” said Zheyan with a smirk, leaning closer to the table. “Shishi has very little patience for, as she’s put it, ‘self-harming nonsense’. And trust me when I say she could not care less if this plan of hers intervenes with or ruins someone else’s.”

“Changshan, I’d like to have a word with High God Zheyan in private,” declared Moyuan, sounding neither bored nor indifferent for the first time in days, keeping his eyes on Zheyan.

“Yes, Shifu,” said Changshan with a bend of his head. Then, having made sure there was nothing left in the three goblets, he picked up the tray and quietly walked towards to door.

On his way out, the sight of the vase near Moyuan’s dais caught Changshan’s eyes. The peach blossoms had shriveled, so had the petals lying on the desk. Quite funny, how Moyuan had never asked any of them to switch out the withered flowers despite their presenting a contradiction to his neat and well organized study.

For a moment, Changshan considered cleaning out the vase and picking some new peach blossoms but then simply shrugged the idea away.

He had a feeling a new batch of flowers would not make that great a difference to the room.