Fanfiction 2: Moyuan and Bai Qian - Chapter 17, Part 4 THE END (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 17 - The Plan (LAST CHAPTER)

Part 4

written by LalaLoop
edited by kakashi




Just a few more minutes, Senior, she groaned, I’m too tired.

Why must we practice magic now? Bai Qian buried her face in her blanket and ignored Zilan as he kept pulling her by the hand. Shifu is not here. He wouldn’t know if we skip one day. He’s not here…

“You’ll never be able to catch up with Shifu if you keep being so lazy, Little Seventeenth,” Zilan jeered, laughing. “He will have to protect you forever.”

“No… stop… I don't want… I don't need Shifu… I’ll catch up with him… I’ll catch up… I'll practice more… ”


“Stop pulling me --”

“Seventeenth, wake up --”

“What --”

Bai Qian forced open her eyes and blinked. The hand that was gripping hers was not Zilan’s.


Bai Qian leapt up. Moyuan seemed to have been awoken, and judging by the way he looked, not by the light of day but by pain. He removed his hand and pressed his fingers against his temple, seemingly wanting to get up from the bed yet unable to. Bai Qian pushed her hair back, sprang up from the bedside, flew towards the door and flung it open.

It was quite fortunate that Fengjiu was right outside and judging by the way she gasped in astonishment, Bai Qian suspected she had been standing there for a while, debating whether or not to knock.

“Gugu!” Fengjiu exclaimed, fixing her hair and dress. “You scared me! What’s the matter?”

“What are you doing here?” asked Bai Qian, bemused.

“I came to see if you’re all right, of course,” the little fox said defiantly. “Zheyan told us yesterday where you went. And I wanted to ask you if you’d like anything to eat.”

“I can eat later,” Bai Qian nodded. “Since you’re here, would you please go fetch Zheyan or Lord Donghua for me?” said Bai Qian right away. “Tell them High God Moyuan awoke.”

“He did?” said Fengjiu, tiptoeing to get a clearer view of the room. “Of course, I’ll go right away.”

“And the Crown Prince. Send someone to inform the Crown Prince.”

Fengjiu slightly bended her head and quickly dashed out of sight.

When Bai Qian was back at the bedside, she was quite nervous to see Moyuan looking as if he was about to drift off to sleep again.

“Shifu,” said Bai Qian in an almost inaudible voice, kneeling down and peering closer.

Moyuan tried and miserably failed to get up. She quickly placed her arm underneath his shoulder and managed to lift him up, then placed a pillow behind his back.

“Shifu,” she said again in the hushest tone possible.

Still he gave no answer.

Several more seconds passed and Bai Qian was beginning to think maybe she should have left him lying down after all. His eyes shut tightly and it was difficult to tell whether he was aware of his surroundings.

“Shifu…” she frowned.

“What happened?” said Moyuan at last. “Who sealed my powers?”

Instead of answering, Bai Qian threw her arms around his neck, her heart pounding, but from relief rather than fear, tears streaming down her face freely. Moyuan, who was either too tired or too surprised, made no response whatsoever. And so Bai Qian drew closer and tightened her grip around him. She had no intention of letting go perhaps until someone came knocking on the door again.

“Seventeenth…” came his raspy voice suddenly. “You’re hurting me…”

Bai Qian gasped. She sat up completely and moved back a considerable distance. She had completely forgotten - Moyuan had not been injured during the mission but his old scars might be hurting.

“I'm sorry,” she said, brushing away her tears.

“I will recover,” he managed to say, undoubtedly relieved to have been let go of. “But for now…”

“Oh, I know,” said Bai Qian apologetically, tucking her loose hair strands back into the bun. She could see Moyuan made an effort to reach her face, but was again unable to.

“Who sealed my powers?” he asked again.

“Lord Donghua did. He said…”

“Why?” asked Bai Qian.

Donghua went on to sit down at the bedside and placed his fingers on Moyuan’s wirst. After approximately two seconds, he made a brushing motion. Bai Qian had never seen anyone perform the Sealing Spell by simply touching a pulse before.

“There,” he said. “It’s done.”

Done? Bai Qian gawked at him, full of awe. Something that would take her and her seniors minutes to perform had been done in two seconds with one touch. There had not been even a single flash of light.

“When he wakes up,” said Zheyan, and Bai Qian recalled that she had just asked a question, “either I or Donghua can heal him. It isn’t a good idea to let Moyuan heal himself this time, he’s quite exhausted. Not to mention he likes to squander energy when it is completely unnecessary.”

“Oh,” Bai Qian could not agree with this more. She thought for a while, “like... like cloud-jumping.”

“Yes, exactly,” said Donghua with a chuckle.

“Shifu took us to the secret cave in two jumps,” Bai Qian could not help pointing out, “while it took me four just to get back to Ziming Palace.”

Donghua cleared his throat and laughed, his arms folded in front. “If extreme speed in cloud-jumping was punishable by law, Moyuan would have been asked to the celestial court every single time.”

“Well said,” Zheyan laughed along. And Bai Qian had to admit that they were quite right.


“What did Donghua say?” asked Moyuan.

“He said you shouldn’t use your own healing powers,” Bai Qian said. Moyuan was now keeping his eyes on her as if wanting to say something but could not find the strength to form the words fast enough.

And Bai Qian could kind of guess what it was about. She would want to talk to Moyuan too if he had snapped and shaken her hand away for no good reason during a mission where it was essential that they stuck together.

So to buy herself some time before Zheyan arrived, Bai Qian headed to the table to obtain a cup of water. And to be entirely honest, Moyuan needed it too. It was a little too full, so she walked back to the bed step by step, keeping her eyes on the water surface that threatened to spill.

“Seventeenth,” he began, reaching out to the cup in her hand.

Bai Qian’s heart sank. She knew he was going to ask about it. For heaven’s sake, why did he have to notice everything! It was only one short moment that her extreme pride had taken over. And it wasn’t like she hadn’t tried to hide it. Bai Qian slowly handed him the cup, running through possible explanations that could justify her action without having to spell everything out loud at once.

Though as Bai Qian was bracing herself for the question, a loud knock on wood made her jump. Water in the cup swirled and spilled onto Moyuan’s robe. Bai Qian gasped; she frantically looked around for something to dab the water away and while doing so, recognized Fengjiu who had appeared at the doorstep.

“It’s all right,” said Moyuan to her, not paying much attention to the dark spot on his robe the liquid had left.

At Bai Qian’s nod, Fengjiu edged into the room, in her hands a tea tray. “Gugu, High God Moyuan,” she bowed, slightly blushing, “I just wanted to let you know that High God Zheyan will be here in a minute.”

“Of course,” answered Bai Qian. “Thank you.”

“This tea is for you, High God,” continued Fengjiu, setting the tray onto the table near the window, “Gugu’s Second Senior isn’t here so I took the liberty of using the kitchen. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Absolutely not,” said Moyuan, obviously trying to sound less exhausted than he was. “Only, I would not remove or rearrange anything - Changshan is particularly strict about where everything is kept.”

“Oh, of course,” Fengjiu smiled. “I’ve spoken to Immortal Changshan many times. I know what not to do. Here,” she opened the bowl next to the teapot. “These are sugar crystals that I made myself. You can add them to the tea to enhance the flavor if you wish.”

“Thank you, Your Highness” Moyuan nodded with a smile. “You are too kind.”

Fengjiu went quiet for several seconds, the pink patches on her face deepening.

“And - erm,” the little fox motioned her hand at Bai Qian. “Gugu, Lord Donghua said he would like a word with you.”

Surprised as to what this could be about, it took Bai Qian several seconds to utter a response. She nodded and turned to Moyuan, who looked as clueless as she did. But he quickly spoke.

“Just a moment, I need to discuss something with you first.”

“Please, High God, Lord Donghua said Gugu is needed immediately,” said Fengjiu. She seemed to be uncertain whether she was offending Moyuan and - possibly like everyone else - unable to tell what the Master of Kunlun was thinking. “So -- well -- if you don’t mind --”

Moyuan obviously minded this time around. And Fengjiu’s pleading tone made Bai Qian even more curious as to what Donghua could possibly need her for.

“Is there anything I can do, Your Highness?” asked Moyuan kindly, his head tilted.

“No, sir, I don’t believe so.”

“What is it about?” Bai Qian couldn’t help asking.

“I’m not sure, Gugu. He only said that it’s very important and that he’s sure whatever you are doing now can wait.”

“Very well, we will talk after Zheyan is done here,” said Moyuan.

“Oh,” Fengjiu held up her hand. “If I may, High God, you should not expect Gugu to be back soon. I think this business will claim a lot of time. Lord Donghua specifically said that this is a complicated matter that would take very long to explain and resolve, that’s why he needs to speak with Gugu himself.”

“I’ll be right there, Fengjiu,” said Bai Qian.

Fengjiu seemed quite relieved, her blushing face beamed as she retreated outside.

Looking back at Moyuan, Bai Qian shrugged at his curious expression. Just like everyone who wasn’t raised in the Fox tribe, he must have felt Fengjiu had been a bit more blunt than necessary.

“Qingqiu people are very honest,” she told him. “They say what’s needed to be said.”

“Obviously,” Moyuan replied with a light smile. He looked neither offended nor agitated. “It’s no matter. Come find me when you are done.”

But as she was about to walk away, Moyuan held her back by the arm, suddenly looking at Bai Qian as if he had seen her for the first time.

“Seventeenth, you...”

Bai Qian did not need to hear the rest of the question to know what he wanted to say. She had seen this expression of his too many times to be mistaken.

“I’m not injured. Not as much as you are anyway.”

“And Yehua?”

“He was more shocked than hurt.”

“Of course,” Moyuan looked down and thought for a while. “And --”

Who else could he be worried about? Bai Qian frowned. A-li?

“Your seniors, are any of them back? Do they know?”

“Well…” Bai Qian stumbled, this she was not so sure for she had been here since last night. “I don’t…”

“No,” Zheyan’s voice rang from the other side of the room, making Bai Qian turn. She greeted him with a wide grin as the Old Phoenix proceeded inside. “They are not back yet. Only one of your disciples knows,” he said and jerked his head at Bai Qian, who failed to stop herself from giggling.

The silence that followed indicated Moyuan did not share her sentiment.

“Why, did I say something wrong?” Zheyan continued. “You call her Seventeenth, it is only right that I refer to her as your disciple. Unless, of course, Xiaowu has any objection.”

“No, Old Phoenix,” said Bai Qian, still struggling to suppress laughter, “no objection.”

“Excellent,” Zheyan winked and gestured for her to leave the room.


Fengjiu, who was waiting in the hallway, joined Bai Qian as soon as she walked out.

“He’s in the hall,” said Fengjiu shortly. And it took Bai Qian a while to realize whom she was referring too.

“The way he speaks to me,” said Fengjiu, looking back at Moyuan’s room. “One would think I was a highly respected queen in all the realms. And I’m not even a high immortal yet.”

“Well,” Bai Qian smiled. “You are a future queen, don’t be surprised when people treat you like one.”

“I know that,” Fengjiu shrugged. “But that particular kind of tone - so courteous and almost encouraging - it just makes me want to go and study hard to become a real queen as soon as possible.”

“Yes,” Bai Qian rolled her eyes, thinking back to the cave and how Moyuan had singlehandedly defeated more than a hundred assassins without Xuanyuan. “He’s a real source of inspiration, all right.”

Suddenly, Fengjiu stopped, pointing at the front. Bai Qian realized that they had reached the hall.

“There he is,” said Fengjiu, her expression stiffening. The little Fox hesitated a little then turned around and kept walking, possibly to the kitchen again.

Bai Qian sighed. She understood Lord Donghua to a certain extent and would not deny that she would hate to see him get hurt. But she felt Fengjiu was not wrong to begin showing indifference towards him.

“High Goddess,” Donghua turned around and addressed her as soon as she stepped into the hall.

“Lord Donghua,” Bai Qian bowed.

“I apologize for any inconvenience,” he said.

“Not at all, sir.”

Without any immediate explanation as to why he had asked her here, Donghua drew from his sleeve pocket what Bai Qian surprisingly recognized as the Kunlun fan. Though instead of handing it to her, Donghua kept it close to himself as he spoke.

“You dropped this on the steps of the great hall last night when you and Moyuan arrived at Kunlun.”

Bai Qian nodded suspiciously, wondering at Donghua’s rather grim expression - it was as if someone had died. Though the moment he presented the fan to her, Bai Qian instantly understood her speculation was not far from the truth. Her stomach lurched - there was something that looked like a crack on the surface of the jade stone attached to the handle.

“I have yet to know the details of the magic you had to perform during your trip,” said Donghua slowly, “but whatever the weapon sustained has damaged its core. It was discovered by Zheyan. Since then, he and I have tried all the means we could think of to repair it in Moyuan’s study. But it seems there is nothing we can do. At least for now.”

Bai Qian stood dumbstruck. His words fell on her like winter hail and she had no idea how to begin processing them.

“Damaged...? the core?” she repeated blankly, unable to believe her own ears. Bai Qian swallowed as Donghua held the fan in front of her face. Knowing what he wanted her to do, Bai Qian took it in her hand.

And what came afterward - or rather, what she had expected to happen, but did not - made her gasp in horror. There was no warmth rushing through her fingers, no vibration of powers. Then fan lay motionless in her grip, dull and lifeless as a wooden stick.

She gave it a wave; no force of power came out and and all that was emitted from the metal tips was sizzling sparks that died almost immediately.

“No…” she bit her lips. “How… how could this be? How…”

“That is the question, indeed,” said Donghua as he looked at her intently. “Now, you told us that you have used this fan to destroy the dark enchantment, is that correct?”


“And then, there was a brief fight against the assassins as you retreated from the cave?”


“Let me ask you, when did the fan start to show abnormalities in its performance?”

Bai Qian frowned. Donghua carried on.

“A damage such as this indicates that the fan has been strained before the moment it finally broke. Were there any instances when it did not obey your command or did but not to the degree you would have wanted?”

Still staring from Donghua to the fan, Bai Qian searched her brains for an answer. The first thing that came to her mind was when Moyuan had asked her to strike him. She began to tell Donghua how she had failed to get the task done even though every force she had conjured had felt like the best she could do.

“But I figured it was because my heart wasn’t in it,” she added. “That’s why I couldn’t do it properly.”

“Since I was not there,” said Donghua, “I cannot conclude whether it was a question of willingness or capacity that hindered you, but let us assume that it is the former. Did anything else happen afterwards that required you to make use of the fan?”

“I had to create a shield against Crimson Hellfire. But... ” she paused, feeling herself blushing from embarrassment. “Because my shield wasn’t strong enough, Shifu had to help me with it.”

“Your shield was not strong enough?”

Bai Qian nodded again. Donghua said no more and thought for a while with his fingers interlocked. Perhaps the breaking of one of the most famous weapons in all the realms had intrigued him so much that he could not hide the look of curiosity and interest. To Bai Qian, Donghua reaction only meant one thing: even he had never come across anything like this before - and this was not exactly good news for her.

“I do not believe it was your fault that the shield conjured was not strong enough,” he said at last. “Perhaps by then the fan was already damaged.”

“But how!” Bai Qian sounded almost like she was yelling. “This is ridiculous. I don’t know that much about weapons, but it can’t just... break…”

“I am no Moyuan; but as far as I am aware, there are three known ways by which a powerful weapon can be destroyed - a collision with its destroyer, Crimson Hellfire, and Zhuxian Terrace, throw any object in and you will receive a pile of dust in return,” he frowned at the lifeless thing in Bai Qian’s hand. “But -- none of these things happened, did they?”

“No,” Bai Qian answered emptily, still not taking her eyes off the fan. It was too obvious that something else had occurred, and so quietly that neither she nor Moyuan had been aware of it. Moyuan had kept the fan for several days in the Eastern Forest and even brought it back to Kunlun before returning it to her, and he had not mentioned anything unusual at all.

“Of course, there are many other theories concerning ownership and the connection between weapons and their wielders and so on. For instance, a weapon would likely resist and consequently break under pressure when forced to work against its undefended master. But I cannot imagine how any of these theories could apply because even though Moyuan created the Kunlun fan, he is not its wielder, you are.”

None of those words seemed to register in Bai Qian’s head at the moment. Everything seemed to bounce off her ears except for the fact that she did not have a weapon anymore.

“Sir… is there anything we can do… anything...” she asked desperately, But Bai Qian knew before she could finish her question that it was no good. Donghua shook his head.

“I’m afraid not.”

“But… This is the Fan of Kunlun, not one of those common weapons you can find anywhere. It's been forged with the most advanced magic in the eight realms. It isn’t as powerful as Xuanyuan, or Chang’he, or the Deadly Whip -- but it can’t possibly --”

“The jade core was created with the finest craftsmanship and, yes, advanced magic. That is what makes it powerful and - mostly - unbreakable. But like all other powerful weapons, once it breaks, that is the end of it.”

“Maybe… maybe Shifu has a way to repair it. He is its creator...” said Bai Qian. Though she could hear the foolishness of the words that left her mouth.

“No one in the eight realms has ever been able to ‘repair’ a weapon with a broken core,” said Donghua matter-of-factly. Perhaps he was unaware of how the finality in his voice hit Bai Qian like a slap in the face. “Or rather, no weapon can be restored to its original state once broken, that much I know for certain.”

But Bai Qian realized that she didn’t really need to hear this confirmation.

For a moment, it was as if she was hoping that by putting Moyuan and the fan in the same room, some miracle could happen with a wave of his hand. As if Moyuan could alter death. But the best thing he could do in this case was perhaps finding out the cause of the breaking, and Bai Qian was not sure that would be of any use now. Its connection with her was lost. Even if Moyuan could replace the broken jade core with a new one, the fan would never be the same again.

“I’m very sorry,” said Donghua. “That is all the information my knowledge could offer.”

After a long silence in which he was probably trying to decide on the right thing to say, Donghua quietly took a few steps away.

“I will be at Kunlun today if you have more questions.”

It’s only a weapon, Bai Qian stared at the fan. It’s only…

The fading footsteps told her Donghua was no longer around.

She could not lie to herself that it felt as if a friend, a brother had been taken away from her.

Dejectedly Bai Qian turned to the hall entrance and let her feet take her wherever they wanted to go while thoughts flooded her mind.

The weapon does not define you. Yes, that was what the Master of Kunlun would likely say if she told him about this: If she depended on the fan so much then she did not deserve it, and that the fan was not her identity.

But in a way, it was, thought Bai Qian desperately, the fan of Kunlun had been more than just a part of her. It was something that connected her to Kunlun, to Moyuan, something she used to stare at every single day for the last 70,000 years every time she sat in Yanhua cave.

Sobs were rising up in her throats, but Bai Qian swallowed them back. She had shed enough tears for one day.

If that was all the knowledge Lord Donghua could offer, perhaps she could try digging for more knowledge at the place Lord Donghua and everyone else came to for information, minor or major.

Bai Qian almost laughed at herself for coming up with this ludicrous idea as she stood inside of Taichen Palace’s library. But then, she did not believe there was anything else she could do.

There were a few scholarly looking Celestials in the library, all too absorbed in whatever they were reading and writing to care about the newcomer.

Quietly Bai Qian went through the shelves, took as many weapon-related scrolls and books her arms could carry and brought them to an empty table, so many that the library caretaker was starting to look displeased and suspicious. This was quite understandable for Bai Qian could notice that these scrolls looked very well taken care of despite their age.

Settling down at the table, she took a deep breath.

Maybe there’s something in here they’ve all overlooked, Bai Qian told herself. A little note, a small section, perhaps… Or pieces of information she could put together to obtain a solution. Maybe she could find it and bring it to Moyuan, Donghua, or Yuelao… Then they would be able to help...

History of Weapons: the Basics, she started to go through the wooden scroll. But there was nothing.

None of the sections in Weapons Before the Nine Heavens mentioned anything about damaged cores. Powerful Weapons During Fuxi’s Time contained detailed illustrations and lengthy descriptions, but all those people’s weapons were fine in the end.

More Than Just Mindless Swords…nothing there.

Weapons of High Aesthetic Value and How Their Efficiency Is Affected by Redundant Designs… absolutely nothing.

Some people had left their stations. And as she buried her face in the slats of Lesser Known Methods to Extend the Lifespan of Frequently Used Swords, Bai Qian completely lost track of time. But it did not matter. She had to keep looking. Celestials and Demons: the Difference in Sword Making… please let there be something in here… anything...

The mass of scrolls on the table started to decrease as Bai Qian put the ones she had finished on the cushions beside her.

Hopeless and weary, she collapsed onto the table with her face half resting on the scroll she was reading, staring blankly at the front. She had read more about weapons today than she had her whole life. In fact, Bai Qian felt she had devoured enough texts to engage in a debate on weaponry with Moyuan right now. Yet, she could not find one single bit of useful information. How she wished she would have stayed awake during Moyuan’s lectures more back in the day. She could have learned some useful theory that would lead to another testable theory that would perhaps be of help.

Just then, something caught her interest and pulled her out of her stupor almost immediately - a wooden tag dangling from one of the scrolls on the table opposite of her that read: Beyond the Glass: Mirrors From the First Age.

There was no one there. Bai Qian strode over, brought the scroll back to her own table and opened it eagerly.

The random slat she was looking at showed a badly sketched octagon mirror and its various usages in between-realms communication.

Then why aren’t these mirrors mass produced by now? Thought Bai Qian spitefully, moving on to the other slats, straining her eyes over the tiny and not at all well aligned text. Other kinds of mirror took turn appearing as Bai Qian continued reading: Memory Mirrors, Mirrors of Truth, Thief’s Mirror, Spying Glass. And at last...

“Demon Water Mirror!” said Bai Qian loudly. A displeased face popped out from behind one of the wooden shelves and threw her a warning look. Bai Qian glanced up apologetically then went back to the scroll.

There was no picture for this one, only description, which was relatively short compared to the amount dedicated to the other types of mirror.

The Demon Mirror, it began.

Also known as the Demon Water Mirror: first created for the purpose of testing the limits of dark magic and is so named for its unpredictability. A Water Mirror is enchanted to reflect the individual viewer's worst memory, to show the haunting image of an event that has taken place in the past.

Given that the viewer is in constant fear of the possibility of the occurrence of a similar event, the images in the mirror may be exaggerated, twisted and consequently lead the uninformed individual to believe he or she is viewing the future.

Most mirrors of this kind have been destroyed. Their use is forbidden by Celestial law due to their dark nature and the unknown threats they might pose

The next paragraph went on to explain about the first Water Mirror and how and where it had been created.

Too clever - Bai Qian thought as she recalled how she had broken out in cold sweat while looking into the mirror last night - and frightening. And now she affirmatively did not feel sorry at all that half of the objects in that hall had been either burned or broken.

But Shifu... She bit her lips. An event that has taken place…

“Xiaowu!” hissed a voice above. Bai Qian snapped out of her daze and looked up with a start to see her Fourth Brother. “What are you so glued into?”

Bai Qian dismissed the question and groaned in fatigue.

“You’ve been gone for almost a day,” said Bai Zhen.

“Have I?” she rubbed her eyes. Her thoughts were still full of swords, daggers, axes, and whips. And now, mirrors too. “I had no idea.”

“Yes,” Bai Zhen smirked. “I thought you got lost somewhere among the bookshelves. But then I remembered you have a pointer, and a good one too.”

“Did Mom and Dad ask you to spy on me?” asked Bai Qian with an eye roll as Bai Zhen sat down at her table.

“Of course they didn’t,” he scoffed. “But they might as well have, might they not? Seeing that the first thing you did after High God Moyuan came out of meditation was asking to go along with him on a deadly mission and eventually sending him back to his sickbed.”

But Bai Zhen did not sound like it was a bad thing at all. He was looking at her as if she had achieved something remarkable, which, in a way was true. But it was only because Moyuan hadn't lifted a finger to defend himself.

Bai Qian ignored the remark. “So how did you know I was here?”

“Zheyan told me what happened. So I took a guess that you must have been either hiding somewhere in Qingqiu, drinking your misery away or run to the grandest library in all the realms to look for an answer.”

“Well, you are almost right,” she sighed. “I'm here to read my misery away. There's no answer.”

“Have you talked to High God Moyuan?”

Bai Qian whipped her head from side to side. “I don't want to. He's… tired.”

“Is something wrong?” said Bai Zhen sharply, leaning towards to table. “Besides the fact that your fan no longer works, I mean.”

Bai Qian realized that emptiness and dejection must have shown on her face. But she denied it.


“Yes, there is something,” said Bai Zhen. “Surely, High God Moyuan hasn’t upset you?”


“Then what is it? Why won’t you talk to him?”

“Because I don’t know how to explain it yet. I don’t want to make him think it’s his fault.”

“Explain what?”

“I didn't…” she signed. “I'm not sure… But whenever I'm with him… that is… seeing him back in the cave… he just made me… made me want something more.”

Bai Zhen blinked.

“Well,” he cleared his throat. “That certainly clears everything up.”

Bai Qian glanced up at him, flushing.

“What I’m saying is that he is… well… a man...”

“I’ve figured that much out for myself, Xiaowu,” Bai Zhen frowned, looking more impatient than ever. “But what are you talking about? Is he refusing to give you what you want? And… What… What exactly is it?”

“No, he's not refusing…” Bai Qian did not understand why her brother had come to such a conclusion. “I meant that -- as a man, and most of all, the God of War, Master of Kunlun,” she said slowly. “I suppose it’s natural that he should always feel protective of those he loves.”

“Yes?” Bai Zhen hurried her along. “But how does it concern… Why should this prevent you from talking to him?”

Bai Qian sighed in frustration. “It’s too complicated. And it also has to do with our parents and a lot of other people. I’ll explain it to you later, Fourth Brother.”

“All right, then,” Bai Zhen gave up on questioning her. “But do go back and get some sleep. You’re looking almost as tired as High God Moyuan now.”

“Fine,” Bai Qian mumbled.

“And when you do see High God Moyuan,” he continued. “Kindly do not mention to him that you've been in the Nine Heavens all day.”

“Why?” asked Bai Qian, bemused. “This is where I’ve been.”

“Because this is also where the Crown Prince lives. And because despite his position, his powers, his talents, High God Moyuan is also, as you have pointed out earlier, a man.”

Bai Qian did not have a clue what her brother was getting at. But she felt a need to correct him.

“This is where Lord Donghua lives too,” she said.

That statement seemed to make Bai Zhen no longer want to continue explaining his puzzling theory, whatever it was.

“Xiaowu,” he shook his head hopelessly. “Even Migu is more apt in this than you; and that says something. But well,” he shrugged, “I suppose High God Moyuan’s preferences have always been very peculiar, perhaps tactlessness is one of them.”

“Excuse me?”

“Never mind,” Bai Zhen stood up, smiling lightly. “I’ll let Zheyan know you’re alright. Try not to think about it too much. Everyone knows once a weapon with a magical core breaks, there’s not much you can do.”

With that, Bai Zhen left the building. After another few minutes of staring hopelessly at the numerous shelves around, Bai Qian too bounded out of Taichen Palace’s library. On the way out, she noticed the caretaker did not look pleased at all to see the mountainous pile of scrolls and books left on her table and its surroundings.

Not in his room.

Bai Qian opened the teapot’s lid - there was not much tea left. But the little bowl of sugar crystals was still quite full.

She sighed for no particular reason and quietly left the room.

Though Bai Qian did wonder where Moyuan could have gone, she was in no rush to find him. She needed time to think before blurting out something stupid and cause the situation to worsen.

So, knowing that Moyuan absolutely could not be in his study at this hour, not while Zheyan was still around, Bai Qian headed for that place.

Though judging by the scrolls and notebooks that were spread out on the desk when she arrived, she suspected Moyuan must have been in here not too long ago. Changshan would never have left a desk in this study so untidy for more than one day.

Bai Qian walked over to his desk. There was an open scroll at the center and a wooden box whose lid had been half slid open. Sitting down and looking at the wooden slats, a wide grin began to spread on her face: it was Moyuan’s handwriting, or rather, a much younger version of it, where the characters were shorter and fuller.

Must have been a notebook from when he was still attending school, Bai Qian told herself as she touched the scroll.

Blood is the main contributor to the uniqueness of an immortal’s essence. Immortal essence, in turn, plays a vital role in general recognition. Therefore, Immortals across the realms...

The paragraph went on and on about how important immortal essence was and how it was not limited only to identification between immortals. But Bai Qian stopped reading the moment the text started to make her eyes droop. She shared many of Moyuan’s interests, but the tedious recording of notes even in elegant handwriting was certainly not one of them.

But on the same page, Bai Qian found something much more interesting - someone had circled a note; and next to it was a line of comments that seemed to have been made because conversation had not been possible at the time.

As miserable as Bai Qian felt, she could not stop herself from giggling. This was not too different from how she and her Seniors had been. But the thought that Moyuan used to be like this too was quite entertaining.

Bai Qian traced the scroll to look for more scribbles. Some of them were tiny and incomprehensible. But nevertheless, they held her interest longer than the actual notes. Occasionally, she looked up from the scroll to give her strained eyes a break.

And by the fifth time doing so, the sight of the wooden box hit her again.

This box was very different from the rest of the items in Moyuan’s study, she noticed. It looked like something that had been made by a student who had not fully enjoyed carpentry lessons and had only done it to get a passing mark.

She hesitated, stared at the lid for a while, then pulled it opened completely.

Inside was a hairpin carved from wood; a large butterfly with jade pieces of clementine color for wings was attached on one of its ends. And somehow its appearance reminded her of a peaceful day on a meadow.

Whose is this?

But Bai Qian abandoned the question almost instantly because right beside the hairpin lay a Kunlun jade pendant, identical to the one she had except for the name engraved on one side.

She reached inside and picked up the pendant, its cold surface brushing against her fingers.

Ninth Senior.

Bai Qian could feel tears welling in her eyes.

This had definitely not been a good day. Her Kunlun fan had broken. It might take years, ages, before she could find another weapon she could connect to. But was it really the fan that had upset her so? Or more the fact that she no longer had something to hide behind, that she must start relying on nothing but pure talent to deserve the title she had been given? And had it not always been what she wanted, a chance to prove herself, to do something more? Why then, was she even sad?

And Moyuan, Bai Qian looked back at the jade pendant.

At least she and her Seniors had had each other. They had comforted each other after Lingyu’s death, patted each other’s backs, told each other how sorry they were.

Who had ever been there to tell Moyuan ‘sorry’ about anything at all?

Her problem suddenly did not seem like the center of the universe anymore. But then… it was. Because how could she worry about someone else, offer comfort to someone else if she herself was lost and unsettled?


Bai Qian took a sip of tea from her cup - it certainly tasted better with the crystals Fengjiu had made. The sun was slowly showing itself, though most of its light was hidden behind thick clouds. And Bai Qian knew she had sat in the hall for quite some time - the tea in the pot she had brought out had become less warm.


Bai Qian said nothing; she wanted nothing more than to be alone. A short second later, Moyuan appeared at the low table and took the seat opposite of her.

Side-glancing, she saw him take an empty cup from the tray and pour some tea into it.

And Bai Qian could no longer be still.

She quickly placed her hand on Moyuan’s to stop him from drinking the unflavored tea. Bai Qian was aware that Moyuan never took his tea with any kind of sweetener and would usually give a lecture about how tea was meant to be bitter to anyone who tried to make his tea not so. She had also long wanted to tell him to drop that extreme snobbery when it came to tea and appreciate the sweet additions once in a while. Not to mention the crystals Fengjiu had made did not meddle with the taste at all, it did quite the opposite.

With the wooden clip, she picked up a crystal from the bowl and dropped it into his cup. Moyuan brought the cup to his lips after she had let go of his hand.

“Exquisite taste,” he said. And it seemed to be an honest comment. “Very subtle.”

Bai Qian shrugged, making a mental note to tell Fengjiu.

“Seventeenth, may I speak with you?”

She quietly sighed. Bai Qian did not want to hear anything concerning the fan again unless someone had a way to fix it. But not wanting to be rude, she glanced at Moyuan and forced herself to look more cheerful than she really was.

“I’m sorry about what happened with the fan,” he began. Bai Qian simply closed her eyes and looked away. “I understand how it must feel.”

She made no reply - Moyuan had been through a great deal but she was sure he did not have the faintest idea of how she felt right now. Would he still sit here calmly if it had been Xuanyuan that had been broken, or some other token that someone important had left to him?

“I haven't had the chance to examine the fan,” he said and quickly continued in response to her hopeful eyes, “mending is not possible. But I can at least try to learn the cause of the breakage.” Moyuan paused and from the corner of her eyes, Bai Qian could see he was gazing at her.

“Only if you want me to, of course,” he said.

Bai Qian looked down at the fan in her hand and after some reluctance, handed it to Moyuan.

Strangely, as their eyes met, she somehow felt that he really did understand.

“Who told you about it?” she asked, like an instinct.

Moyuan sighed, a rather bitter smile broke on his lips.

“Seventeenth, why is it always such a terrible thing that I know about the problems you are facing?”

Bai Qian kept quiet. She had no idea how to begin answering this question. It had been put on hold for too long to be explained in just a few words.

“It's complicated, and I don’t want to bother you with it now.”

She stood up and walked a few steps away from the table.

“I am more than happy to be bothered,” he stated calmly.

Regardless of this assurance, Bai Qian was convinced she should not open her mouth unless she knew a way to deliver the matter properly.

He rose from his seat and in a matter of seconds, appeared before her. Bai Qian refused to look at him, afraid she might break down completely. It wasn’t that she did not want to cry into his chest and sob her heart out. But she simply could not afford to.

“I do not need to read minds to know that you are troubled,” he began. “Seventeenth, if there is something you want, then the last thing I want to do is stand in your way. Do you understand? And if it is something I can offer you guidance and advice on then by all means, bother me.”

For a long time, Bai Qian said nothing. She did not feel right to burden him with a matter that was completely not his responsibility. Meanwhile, she surmised it would be far worse to keep quiet and let him imagine the worst.

“Why are you unhappy?” he asked plainly.

“I cannot be truly happy if I’m always seen as your shadow.”

As the words came out of her, Bai Qian was fully aware of the pressure they placed on Moyuan. But there was no other way to say it.

It seemed he understood the statement yet was unable to see how it applied.

“Who calls you my shadow?”

No one had, Bai Qian thought. But that was because it was too obvious a thing that no one bothered pointing it out, too obvious and familiar that she herself had almost gotten used to it.

“And I don't want to live in a… a labeled box,” she added.

“I don’t understand,” said Moyuan, puzzled.

“Everything I have is given,” she said, her lip trembling. “Everything that has happened is a plan made by someone else - my position, the Fox Tribe, my former marriage engagement. In short, everything. Seeing my parents and their grand palace and how they love what they do reminded me of it. Yehua’s work in the Nine Heavens reminds me of it. And recently, seeing you battling the assassins also reminded me of it. It reminds me of what you’re capable of, and of the reason I came to Kunlun in the first place. It reminds me that without all the given privileges, I am exactly what you saw in the cave - helpless Little Seventeenth who could not handle the memory of a trial, who cries easily and trembles in fear in front of some assassins. And now...”

She stopped, still unable to accept the reality.

“The fan broke,” Moyuan finished the sentence for her.

“Yes,” Bai Qian scoffed. She could not explain how the fan was connected to it all, but it was certainly the drop that overflowed the glass. “The fan broke.”

There was a look of great relief on Moyuan’s face. And from what Bai Qian could gather, this was not what he had prepared for. Though it did not take him long to form a response.

“Before you continue to bash yourself for being unable to remain fearless in the cave, let me remind you that you are the one who destroyed the soul-gathering device, vanquished a Ghost army and brought us both back to Kunlun with a broken fan for a weapon.”

“I was following your orders,” she shrugged off the compliment.

“I did not order you to throw the anklet into fire.”

Bai Qian’s eyebrow twitched.

“Was that wrong?”

Moyuan’s eyes closed for a brief moment. “No, and that is the whole point. I may have made a plan but it was you who fixed the flaw in my plan. Following my order to the end would have sufficed, I suppose, and I do not deny that it is crucial to follow orders during a mission. But because you chose to take the risk, the mission ended faster than planned and rather successfully.”

“I was lucky then.”

“Lucky?” Moyuan was starting to sound impatient. “Aren’t we all sometimes? You would be surprised to hear that luck played a major role in many of my victories too.”

Bai Qian had to remain silent this time - she had run out of reasons to justify the judgement she had laid out for herself.

“Yes, you cry very easily,” said Moyuan simply. “And you’re right, you are exactly what I saw in the cave.”

Bai Qian stared. Now she wasn’t so sure she understood the point he was trying to make anymore. Moyuan reached forward. She briefly closed her eyes at his touch upon her face, but quickly opened them again, not wanting to dwell too long in the moment.

“I did not see Little Seventeenth at the bridge in the cave. I saw a queen.”

“You are biased,” Bai Qian looked away, her cheeks suddenly felt hot.

But Moyuan quickly clasped her face with both hands, forcing her to look back at him.

“Granted. But I am not speaking to you now as someone who admires you.”

“Your opinion doesn’t…”

“Perhaps it is true that everything you have is given,” he cut in. “But that does not mean you are unworthy of it.”

“We don't know that,” said Bai Qian. “When have I ever been truly tested?”

“Are you not being tested now?”

It was as if someone had just snatched away her book and made her realize she’d been reading it upside down. Bai Qian could not explain why but her mood lifted a bit. They had come to no solution, but she was suddenly much more confident that she would find one soon. Though she was rather ashamed to realize how quickly a few words from Moyuan could untie the knot in her head. And that seemed to defeat the purpose since the last thing she wanted was having to depend on him so much.

But then, Bai Qian thought as she took a closer look at the man before her, is it really so terrible to depend on him?

Furthermore, taking away his right to care and rejecting his concern was not the best idea either. And the way Moyuan was gazing down at her indicated he was trying to tell her just that.

“‘My shadow’? Those who whisper behind others’ back, let them talk,” he said fiercely, gripping her shoulders. “My happiness does not depend on how people choose to spend their spare time, does yours?”

Shifu… you really are kind of arrogant, thought Bai Qian with amazement and yet a feeling of strange delight. What have I gotten myself into?
“If you are still convinced that there must be a more practical resolution to this and that you somehow must prove yourself, I suppose you can go back to Qingqiu, take all the time you need to learn and gain cultivation. Then, when you feel you are well prepared, we can establish a date and settle this on Mount Cangwu.”

Bai Qian was extremely glad she was not drinking her tea at the time for she would have choked on it. Laughter escaped her at once and it took immense effort to contain herself. And this seemed to be what Moyuan had been wanting to happen. He smiled pleasantly and waited.

But sooner than she had thought, the wooden box on the desk invaded her mind once again as her eyes met his. Bai Qian’s smile gradually disappeared and she decided to put her own problem away for a second. The fact that he could make her laugh so easily could not make her forget what the Man of the Moon had once told her- secrets, hidden pain.

“Shifu, I was wondering about something.”

Moyuan nodded. She hesitated, debating whether the question would be too impudent.

“What did you see in the Water Mirror?”

One look at Moyuan’s reaction told Bai Qian she had been right. She immediately felt that a line had been crossed - as if she had just asked him about his love trial. Come to think of it, she would never tell him what she had seen in the mirror either. But his reason could not be the same as hers.

Moyuan continued to look rather uncomfortable and even agitated for several seconds. Bai Qian inched closer. She wanted to tell him again that she intended to stay, that she would not become just another token in the little wooden box.

But before Bai Qian could string the words together, the look of sentimentality disappeared from his face, pulling Bai Qian out of her own trance. A gleam flashed across his eyes.

“I will tell you what I saw,” he lightly touched her chin, “if you tell me what you saw.”

“No,” said Bai Qian instantly. She did not have to think about it. She’d rather battle another Fire Kirin than verbally declare how important Moyuan was to her in front of him.

Moyuan gave a small shrug as Bai Qian quietly scowled. Not bad, God of War. I never knew you could pull this kind of trick too.

All in all, it seemed it was impossible to get a truthful answer out of Moyuan today. Bai Qian looked around; her attention turned to the sky and the somewhat pleasant weather despite the lack of sunlight. Feeling a sudden desire to savor this time of day, she pulled away from his arms.

But to her surprise, Moyuan would not release her. His hand moved to clasp the nape of her neck while the other gently held her by the waist. Bai Qian looked up to see what this was all about. He normally would not try to prevent her from going anywhere, in any sense.

“It's a lovely day,” he said after a while.

“Yes, it is,” Bai Qian replied.

With a chuckle he let go of her. Bai Qian ran along the walkway and only stopped when she had reached the edge of the mountain cliff, taking in gulps of fresh air. The dampness of morning dew lingered in the air around.

She looked down at her empty hand, where the Kunlun fan would usually be at her summon.

So it was not there anymore. So it could no longer accompany her through quests and missions. So the sky was clouded and the tiny rays of sunlight could not get through. These seemed to be silly reasons to lose track of what she really wanted.

What the eight realms had imagined her to be had given her a reason. Her broken fan had given her a reason. A reason to show them what she really was, and perhaps to stray away from the path her family had had to draw out for her because she had never bothered to find one herself.

And joy and delight made their way onto her cheeks as she thought of him.

She knew, somehow, that he was still standing behind her, that the moment she turned around, he would be there - kind and calm and unwavering. And that, to her, was enough luck to last a lifetime.

That sense of urgency. The mind that always wandered. The eyes that often gleamed with curiosity...

But he found that he had been watching the back of her hair streaming out in the wind with a great deal of attention, far more than he had ever given those attributes that always seemed to pull her away from his grasp.

Look at me.

For a moment, he considered calling out her name - what difference would it make how her attention was acquired?

But he dismissed the thought and stood still, deciding to wait a little longer.

At last, she slowly took her eyes off the horizon and turned around at him with a smile as bright as the first light of dawn.

And indeed…

It made all the difference.


My thanks to Kakashi for editing, to my numerous consultants for your patience with my obsession with details.

And thank you all for reading!