Fanfiction: Moyuan and Bai Qian, Book 2 - Chapter 1, Part 1 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 1 - Kings and Queens

Part 1

written by LalaLoop
consulting by Bunny
edited by kakashi

(this is a continuation of Book 1 of LalaLoop's Mo Yuan x Bai Qian Fanfic)


“Pay attention!” The Fox Emperor said loudly to the pair of disciples nearest to him. “Keep your head in the game!”

Changshan turned in the courtyard’s direction, but he could not decide which one of the children had just been shouted at.

“Be on your guard!” The Emperor's voice continued to thunder above the battling crowd. “When you’re out there, it will no longer be a game. The enemy will not wait for you to unsheathe your swords, they will not wait for you to decide which spell to use. They will strike at first chance and if you’re not ready, it’s over!”

The threats didn’t do much to reduce the little disciples’ spirit. On the contrary, they seemed to enjoy these constant reminders of the danger outside of Kunlun. And Changshan could understand why - Moyuan had always been much more considerate with these children’s nerves. And that meant less practice of unfriendly spells in class and no horror stories about how invisible Demons with giant red tongues might attack them the moment they stepped out of the gate.

There had been no such storytelling under the Fox Emperor’s watch, either. Though Changshan could tell he was trying his best to show them that fighting against demons who wanted you dead was not the same as catching wild bunnies in the forest.

Waiting by the pile of treats and buns he’d brought out for the children, Changshan watched the class with great interest. The latest demon attacks on the Crystal Palace of the Western Sea and other random locations in the realms had left them all befuddled and quite frightened. Their lives were soon brought back to a series of meetings and peace talks with other clans. Security had been tightened in all places and Kunlun was not an exception. Lectures that emphasized self defense for young children were taking place at most schools of immortality. Moyuan spared no effort in getting the best lecturers to Kunlun and among the High Gods who were invited was Bai Zhi, Seventeenth’s father and the Fox Emperor.

Having been to the Eastern Forest once, Changshan’s first impression of Bai Zhi was that, just like their Shifu, he had been out there fighting the dark forces and was not afraid to let people be aware of the truth about the harsh world outside.

This was his fifth lecture; and as usual, books had been put away.

To be entirely honest, Changshan wasn’t a big supporter of how the Fox Emperor had been teaching techniques that were too advanced for that age group and allowed the children to duel with each other too often. Though he had to admit: this approach made the classes very interesting.

Most importantly, Bai Zhi had managed to make even the laziest disciple look forward to class. Because after having heard so many lectures about dark magic and the basic defense techniques, all of them had been quite excited to finally get to try actual spells.

“Enough!” Bai Zhi suddenly clapped.

Immediately, the group of twenty or so boys and girls straightened themselves, bowed to their partners, and got back in line, their unblinking eyes staring up at the Fox Emperor as he started to wrap up the lesson.

“Today is my last day at Kunlun --”

Despite having been told of this before, an uproar of protest broke among the children at once.

“Nooo…”

“Why can’t you stay longer?”

“Now, now --” Bai Zhi raised him arms.

“That’s not fair! We’ve only learned a few spells...”

“I am not your permanent teacher,” he said. “As the rest of the guests, I’m only doing this as a special favor to High God Moyuan. And I’m sure the next lecturer will not disappoint.”

“But…”

“But we want to keep practicing like this!”

“The Crown Prince didn’t let us...”

“High God Zheyan made us memorize too much stuff before we could use spells…”

“All right, all right, listen to me!” said Bai Zhi forcefully. “Never underestimate the importance of knowing and understanding theories. I have been letting you throw spells at each other because none of the previous lecturers have had the chance to do so, not because I don’t think meditation and reading are important!”

Upon hearing the word ‘reading’, deep frowns appeared on their faces. The boys and girls mumbled their reluctant agreement and none of them said anything else.

“You need to know what you’re up against, yes,” he held up a finger, peering down at them. “But first, know your basics! I do not want anyone here to fall behind in their reading. Is that clear!”

A rumble of ‘yes’ swept through the crowd.

“Class dismissed,” Bai Zhi waved. The lines broke and he himself disappeared from the courtyard.

Changshan stood up from the steps as the children ran to him, eyes lit up by the sight of the numerous plates of treats. Seconds later, Changshan had to start shouting over the crowd, just like the Fox Emperor, to make them slow down.

Although Moyuan had never forced them into too much of a mold in terms of behavior, these children were always particularly cautious with their actions in front of him. Now that he was not present, they were no longer making much of an effort to sit straight or to eat bite for bite but instead shoved as many buns and sweets into their mouths as they could.

“Slow down, slow down,” said Changshan. “There’s enough for everyone.”

“Shi-shu[1], when will Shi-gong[2] be back?” asked a girl who was the oldest of the group, her feet crossing elegantly with her hands on her lap. She was eyeing the rest of the disciples with disapproval.

“Today, I think.”

“Why does he have to leave the school so often lately?” said a boy in the crowd with a mouth full of cookies.

“I can’t tell you anything,” Changshan tilted his head, chuckling. “It’s Kunlun’s confidential business.”

“Why does he never take us to see all the amazing things he does outside of the mountain?”

Changshan quietly laughed at the boy’s excited voice.

“I wouldn’t call these missions ‘amazing things’. Well… they are amazing,” he corrected himself. “But they are also dangerous and not meant to entertain.”

“What about Gu-gu?” he asked again. “Is she going to be back today too?”

“Hmm…” Changshan thought for a while. According to schedule, she should be back some time today along with the Fox Empress. But he was not certain if they would come to Kunlun. “Perhaps. I’m not so sure.”

“Why? I thought you didn’t like Gu-gu,” the girl commented to the boy.

“I like Gu-gu! I just don’t like her cooking. The candies nearly broke my teeth...”

The little girl put on a superior face and turned to Changshan.

“Shi-shu, is Gu-gu also on a mission?”

“Yes,” he nodded. “I believe so.”

“I want to be out there fighting monsters,” the boy exclaimed proudly, punching his fists in the air. “I will wipe the face of this realm clean of evil!”

“Why don’t you wipe your face clean of cookie crumbs first!” the girl shouted, pulling him back down.

Another few minutes passed and Changshan stood up as he saw one of his Juniors across the yard, waving at him.

“All right, everyone,” he said. “Time to go to your next class. Please form two lines and walk to your Forth Shi-shu.”


...


It was in the afternoon, when Changshan was going over his notes on some potions and the book he had borrowed from the Phoenix High God, that one of his Juniors informed him of Moyuan’s return. And when he arrived at the grand hall with a tea tray, the Fox Emperor seemed to be bidding their Shifu farewell. His traveling cloak was already on and the both of them were standing near the entrance.

“Unless you intend to take lightning trials for every single one of them,” said Bai Zhi, fixing his sleeves. “I suggest you let them be exposed to real experience with duelling. Or at least make it as close to reality as possible. That’s my opinion.”

“Of course, very few understand this matter as well as you do, Fox Emperor,” answered Moyuan. “That’s why I asked you to come.”

“But, ahh — it might be their Masters who have been cradling them too much. They do not receive instructions directly from you all the time, do they.”

“How did they do during my absence?” asked Moyuan.

“Wonderfully,” said Bai Zhi, a satisfied smile appearing across his face.

Changshan placed the tray down on the table beside the wooden dais, slowly arranging the already perfectly positioned cups once more.

“Changshan!”

“Yes!” he jumped, nearly dropping the cup in his hand.

“What about you?” asked Bai Zhi.

“Me, sir?” Changshan pointed at himself, puzzled.

“You disapprove of my method, don’t you, boy?”

“Disapprove? I don’t…”

“Yes, you do. Why?”

Was this a trick question? Changshan wondered with a deep frown.

“Go on, I know disapproval when I see it.”

“No… really, I have no…”

“Speak freely,” Bai Zhi laughed. “I allow you to.”

“Well…” he stammered and after a few seconds decided it was best not to keep testing Bai Zhi’s patience. “I just thought that... those lessons might encourage aggressiveness and that could present some problems when there are no chaperones around and the children get into fights. In the corridors, for example.”

“Changshan,” Moyuan reprimanded him quietly.

“No no,” the Fox Emperor waved. “This is what I appreciate from young immortals today - opinion. Well, Changshan, fighting your friends at school with wooden swords is very different from being surrounded by dozens of demons with your powers suppressed. And I say, the sooner these children are prepared for what’s out there, the better.”

Changshan nodded.

“Unconvinced?” the Fox Emperor asked again with the same loud voice, his eyes twinkling.

“No... well…” Changshan stopped himself; he refused to say anything more that might offend this man.

“It’s all right. I must be off now,” Bai Zhi announced. “I will come back for a debate later. Though I don’t think we ought to worry about fighting in the corridors too much with you around.”


...


About an hour after the Fox Emperor had left, more guests arrived at Kunlun - two guests, to be exact, plus someone Changshan suspected he might have to serve tea to as well.

But not today, it seemed. Because as soon as Lord Donghua and the Phoenix High God had greeted Moyuan and settled at their tables, Seventeenth walked to Changshan with a wide grin and said she would like to help with the tea.

Changshan, with his hands free, allowed his mind to wander a little.

Seventeenth? He couldn’t help frowning. The hardest part of this was not that he would have to address her as his superior one day, but that no matter how much he tried, Changshan still could not imagine Seventeenth sitting on the dais next to the Master of Kunlun. On the stairs in the library with a stack of books, yes. Telling Zilan what to do, yes. Battling demons, yes. But to be up there, playing the role of someone who represented Kunlun and all of its grandeur?

Changshan shook his head.

There was just no getting around the fact that she was almost a head shorter than Moyuan, and this made her look more like his disciple than anything else.

Though, come to think of it, Changshan didn’t believe there would be any changes at Kunlun soon. Somehow he had a feeling that Seventeenth had broken her engagement with the Crown Prince so that she could finish devouring Kunlun’s library and make up for the time she’d had to spend without a mentor. Which was a very legitimate reason, in Changshan’s opinion. He knew of many immortals who had turned down marriage proposals because they needed more time to gain cultivation. He himself was always wanting to continue his own education.

Changshan’s confusion lay more in the fact that there was not much of a difference in Seventeenth’s demeanor towards the person he’d assumed she had left the Crown Prince for. He unconsciously glanced at her hand, even though her long sleeve had covered her wrist well, Changshan knew the handkerchief was always there like some sort of permanent bracelet - but it was certainly not the embroidery that she fancied. Not when there were obviously better choices around. And if it was just to honor her apprenticeship at Kunlun, shouldn’t the Kunlun jade pendant be enough?

Every time Changshan saw Seventeenth with their Shifu, he was simply being… Shifu - explaining things she pointed out from a book or showing her how to perfect a sword technique. But then, Changshan was aware that he did not spend all his time with them.

“I’m beginning to think that no one takes my retirement seriously,” remarked Donghua. “They somehow think I like to be handed reports on a daily basis.”

“Do you not?” said the Phoenix High God with a smirk as he accepted a cup of tea from Seventeenth.

Donghua made a quiet grunting sound and dismissed the subject, turning to Moyuan on the dais, starting to ask questions about the latter’s latest trip.

Before Changshan could tell Seventeenth that Shifu already had a cup of tea, she had poured some into another cup and was now bringing it to Moyuan. He silently chuckled at his Junior’s oblivion and waited for her to come back.

To his surprise though, Changshan saw that Moyuan had no objection whatsoever to this extra cup. Instead, he took it as if there was no teacup beside him already.

“I forgot to ask you, Xiaowu,” Zheyan said. “Was your trip successful?”

“My mother was successful,” answered Seventeenth. “She managed to get an audience with the Elders of the Tree Spirits. I was just standing by, listening to her talking to them in a different language. And then we went to the mortal realm.”

“The mortal realm?”

“Yes, because I wanted to visit the Ghost Princess.”

“And I trust you did not get anyone to kick another mortal into a lake this time?” said Donghua, his brows going up in a most amusing way.

Changshan had no idea what this was about, but it made Seventeenth start to stammer and glance back and forth between Lord Donghua and Zheyan.

“Lord…”

“Sorry?” Moyuan’s brows furrowed.

“Ahh —” Donghua took a sip of his tea. “She hasn’t told you, I see.”

The Phoenix High God sniggered while Seventeenth shook her head in alarm.

“You went to the mortal realm?” Changshan asked after a while, trying to keep his voice down as to not disturb Moyuan’s conversation with his guests.

She nodded excitedly.

“How is Zilan?”

“He’s fine. He should be back soon. He just doesn't want to leave Yanzhi alone just yet.”

“I see. I still say the Ghost Princess should come back and stay with us. It’s not safe to be alone in the mortal realm even if you’re well hidden.”

“That’s true,” she nodded. “I think Sixteenth Senior is trying to convince her to come back. And also,” she lowered her voice, “Qilin[3] went missing today, just before we left the mortal realm. Yanzhi’s having to go find him.”

“Qilin?” Changshan gasped - the Kirin boy with the ability to produce specks of Crimson Hellfire who used to stay at Kunlun after the battle. “He’s been kidnapped?”

“We don’t know,” said Seventeenth. “It could be. But from what Yanzhi said, he could also just be lost in the woods. It’s happened a lot of times before, apparently.”

“Let’s hope he’s just lost. Even if he’s got special powers, he’s still a child,” Changshan’s eyes narrowed. “And it’s very dangerous out there right now for anyone who loses direction in, let’s say, an unfamiliar forest.”

“Dangerous for Celestials and citizens of their allies who walk aimlessly into dark corners,” Seventeenth said. “I don’t think the Demons would want to attack a child from the Ghost clan though.”

“You’re right,” Changshan nodded. Though he was still feeling uneasy about the whole thing. Now was one of the times he believed the Fox Emperor was right to teach the disciples those spells early.

Moyuan suddenly set down his cup.

“I assume you’ve all heard the news?”

News? Changshan could not believe his own ears. Just when he had been about to tell Seventeenth about the candies she’d made that the children had been complaining about!

He straightened his back and stared at Moyuan. This was it - there would be no calling her ‘bossy’ and making fun of her cooking after today.

Seventeenth, however, was examining the plate of treats on the table. For someone who was about to be announced Mistress of this grand mountain, she was acting strangely calm and casual.

“The meeting in the Nine Heavens?” asked Donghua.

“Yes,” Moyuan nodded. At that, Changshan’s mouth slightly fell ajar, his anticipation coming to a screeching halt. His hand flew to his forehead like an instinct. Relief was the first thing he felt; but Changshan could not deny he was also a bit disappointed.

“Yes, we know about the time change,” Zheyan said. “But why was it necessary?”

“Haode[4] had trouble processing the fact that the Demon tribe is amassing power and that the latest attacks are a real threat,” Donghua scoffed. Next to Changshan, Seventeenth did the same. “He ordered the meeting to be cancelled entirely, but the Crown Prince managed to move it to another day.”

“Like I said before,” Zheyan waved his hand lazily. “I’m not sure I will be there. All that pointless arguing and pretending we have time to spare, I don’t think I will last two minutes.”

“I understand,” said Moyuan. “We will let you know of anything important.”

“Oh, Second Senior,” Seventeenth said suddenly in a hushed tone. “Have you heard from Senior Diefeng?”

“Just yesterday,” replied Changshan. And he recalled now that his youngest Junior was always a little nervous lately every time Diefeng’s name was mentioned. “He’s still busy sorting out everything after the last attack by demon assassins during his brother’s coronation. The whole palace is in panic right now. Looks like we won’t be seeing him anytime soon.”

Chapter 2

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Endnotes:

[1] 师叔 - one’s teacher’s junior fellow student in a martial school
[2] 师公 - grandmaster
[3] Lijing’s mount from the drama
[4] The Skylord’s name

For your convenience, these are the things that were implied but never specified in Book 1:

  • Donghua/Fengjiu and Zilan/Yanzhi’s relationships, if mentioned, will be based on how they were left off in the drama.
  • BQ here is not a great fighter as the drama says she is.
  • Qingqiu here does not belong to Bai Qian alone, but also to her brothers, most notably Bai Zhen.