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

Chapter 1 - Kings and Queens

Part 2

written by LalaLoop
consulting by Bunny
edited by kakashi

A few minutes into the meeting at the Celestial court and Bai Qian understood why Zheyan did not want to come. In fact, she wished she could join him in the Peach Blossom Garden this moment instead of sitting and listening to these old men spouting nonsense about how great and untouchable the defenses of their tribes were. And she was also starting to understand why Lord Donghua always looked indifferent during these meetings - indifference was perhaps the only way to maintain one’s sanity when surrounded by so much stupidity.

An argument about the Demon tribe was going on, but it was repetitive to the point that Bai Qian had begun to feel sleepy. She had no idea when Donghua and Moyuan had left but they were no longer in the hall now. And the only thing keeping Bai Qian here was that she felt extremely sorry for Yehua for having to deal with this almost everyday.

“I fail to see why we should issue warnings and strengthen our defenses when the Demon tribe is currently leaderless,” snarled one of the men, “their steward a callow boy and their army scarce.”

“A boy? Have you been living in a cave or are you really that naive?” argued another. Not too keen on knowing who that was, Bai Qian kept her blank gaze directed to the front, pointlessly stirring the tasteless tea in her cup.

On the other side of the hall, some guests seemed as weary as she was. Yehua’s father had been quiet the whole time. Severals people Bai Qian was sure were pretending to take notes so they would not have to speak. While some of them, out of their respect for Yehua, remained silent, some did not bother hiding the fact that they felt their time was being wasted. Several others were looking quite murderous.

On the dais, Yehua was holding his cup of wine in one hand, his face expressionless. But Bai Qian knew that look too well. She was sure that once or twice during the meeting, he had wanted to strangle one of these idiotic men.

“It is not the number of Demon soldiers that we are speaking of,” barked an old general as he sprang up. “It is their willingness to use hidden weapons and any kind of dark magic at their disposal. Look at what happened at the Crystal Palace. Whoever is behind these attacks is not to be underestimated and needs to be found at once!”

“One attack on the Crystal Palace does not mean that we are in danger from the Demon tribe,” stood up the old general who had been most aggressive in his objection to Yehua’s warnings about the Demons. “These extra measures the Crown Prince is making us take are costly and unnecessary!”

That was the fiftieth time Bai Qian had heard that statement. But this time, she could not keep quiet anymore.

“Then how many attacks do you need to start putting your people on their guards?” she said loudly. “Also, the Crown Prince isn’t making anyone learn to defend themselves. He is simply suggesting it. Whether it’s necessary to protect the children of your tribe or not is your choice.”

“You… you…” the old man stared at her, his eyes bulging. Though just when he looked like he was about to shout a reply, another man’s voice raised from the row behind him.

“And where are you from, may I ask?”

Bai Qian squinted. The speaker slowly rose from his seat while the older sat down grudgingly.

This man was wearing a rather bulky robe, his shaggy hair was kept in a high knot and his eyes were a vivid color of amber. Bai Qian noticed that he was younger than most people present and only slightly older than Yehua in appearance.

“Qingqiu,” said Bai Qian, a bit taken aback.

“Qingqiu,” the man smirked; his voice was rather friendly yet the words that came out of his mouth were the complete opposite. “The Qingqiu that is too venerable and prestigious it excludes itself from all matters of the realms? Is that the place you are referring to?”

The hall became dead quiet. Obviously, Qingqiu getting insulted was not something these people witnessed everyday. Bai Qian scanned the man from head to toe - what exactly did this stranger have against Qingqiu and her parents?

“Your —” she glanced down at the pendant on his belt. There were some sort of carvings on it but he was standing too far away for her to see it clearly and determine his title — “Highness?”

“Majesty,” his eyes narrowed.

King? Bai Qian had to suppress a sound of disbelief.

“Your Majesty,” she lifted her chin. “Of?”

“Xunzhua[1],” his face jerked up proudly.

Bai Qian nodded to herself - the small tribe of felidae somewhere in the North - that would explain the talon-like pendant hanging on one side of his cloak.

“King of Xunzhua,” she said. “Are you implying that a clan must see a bloodbath every other day for its rulers to qualify to speak in this court?”

“Not at all,” he raised his brows. “I was merely wondering if you, my Queen, have seen more than one battle in your lifetime or even read the first slat of the regulation scroll before you came to this meeting.”

Bai Qian stared into the man’s amber eyes, her neck becoming hot.

“Please, enlighten me,” she said, matching his challenging tone.

“Unless you are Lord Donghua, it is common courtesy to stand while exchanging notes with other leaders on a subject, no matter how—” he jeered — “bored you might be.”

Before Bai Qian could counter this remark, he went on.

“Back to our discussion - am I to take it that you support our Celestial Crown Prince's view?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Based on what facts?”

She scoffed in astonishment. What game was this? This king did not look like someone too stupid or stubborn to tell truths from lies. Surely, he was not one of these blind men who couldn’t understand the current climate. Why, then, was he questioning her on something that was too obvious?

“Celestial reports and our own,” she answered.

“Reports from the same Celestials who claimed they had everything under control the day before the Bell of Donghuang exploded?”

“That was an accident no one could have foreseen,” said Bai Qian sharply.

“Even the people who chose to give Qingcang the Bell knowing what it was capable of?”

“That is enough,” said Yehua, not bothering to hide his displeasure. “Let us focus on the issue concerning the Demon tribe. And If you have questions regarding our reports, King of Xunzhua, I am the Crown Prince, please direct them to me.”

As if having achieved what he’d wanted, the man stared at Bai Qian with a satisfied smile for another few seconds then turned towards Yehua and said in a mock respectful manner, “no questions, Crown Prince.”

He then settled back down and did not utter another word for the rest of the meeting.

Obnoxious, Bai Qian gulped down her tea.

Soon, the discussion went back to its former sleep-inducing state despite the constant arguing. Only when Yehua stood up from his seat did Bai Qian realize that the torture of this boredom had ended.

She happily straightened herself and, as the rest of the guests, gave Yehua a ceremonious bow. Some of the men started to exit the hall while others got into groups for more discussions. Yehua himself was now speaking to several people at once.

At this time, unbeknown to most guests, a celestial guard came running into the hall. He quietly handed the scoundrel who called himself the King of Xunzhua a letter. Half a minute after scanning the content, they both abruptly left.

As Bai Qian watched them vanish from view, she decided it was about time she found Moyuan for some real discussion, which she suspected was what he was doing with Donghua at this moment.

Bai Qian’s eyes rolled - to think she could have spent her time productively at Qingqiu, going over reports with her brother, or at Taichen library, slouching on a pile of scrolls.

“Qianqian,” Yehua’s voice suddenly sounded behind her. “Could I have a word?”

Bai Qian turned around and realized Yehua was standing at a distance, looking somewhat stiff and uneasy.

“Of course,” she shrugged, slightly surprised.

“Would you walk with me?” he gestured towards the exit.

“How does anything ever get done here?” Bai Qian commented as they stepped down the stairs.

“The best summary of this meeting,” Yehua chuckled and she laughed along. “Are you disappointed?” he asked.

“Disappointed?” she exclaimed. “No! There’s nothing wrong with your management. It’s their ignorance and lack of cooperation.”

“Don’t take those people’s words to heart. Most of them are like that. The King of Xunzhua has just ascended the throne. The last time we held a meeting, it was his father who sat in the court.”

“A new king, I see,” Bai Qian rolled her eyes. “No wonder.” But she paused and thought a little. “Is it true that I should have stood up?”

“Hmm --” Yehua pressed his lips together and pretended to think. “This I believe he was right.”

The air between them lightened up a bit when Bai Qian burst out in laughter. She made a mental note to dig out that Nine Heavens’ regulation scroll that had been given to her a long time ago and had probably been buried somewhere underneath the pile of useless documents she chose never to set eyes on.



When they had reached a more quiet and secluded ground, however, Yehua was no longer chuckling or making jokes about the meeting they’d just sat through.

“We haven’t talked much since the battle, have we?” he said, his eyes looking past her shoulders.

“No, we haven’t,” said Bai Qian

“It’s just you and I now,” he went on. “I will get straight to it.”

Utterly curious as to what this could be about, Bai Qian looked at him without saying anything.

“I hope this is not troubling you - working together and having to see me this often after --“ he took a deep breath -- “after everything.”

Bai Qian, who had expected something much more serious from Yehua’s solemn manner, felt relieved and partly amused.

“No, it’s no trouble,” she said. And Yehua, seemingly unconvinced, kept gazing at her. “Truly,” she assured him. “If I felt bothered, I would have made up some excuse not to come.”

“Good,” Yehua said, still looking suspicious. “Because given the current situation, you know that we will have to meet a lot more in the future.”

“I know,” she nodded. “It’s fine. And - er - I hope you don’t find it inconvenient.”

“No,” he said shortly, as if reporting to a military superior. And in the ruthlessness of his voice, Bai Qian found the answer. She did not attempt to delve anymore into the subject. Yehua always had a way of shutting people out and she’d spent enough time with him to know that once he’d implied the wish to be left alone, she should probably leave him be.

“Well then,” Yehua reached into his sleeve and drew out something circular in shape. “Why don’t you hang on to this.”

Taking a closer look, Bai Qian gasped, “the copper mirror!”

“I’ve been hesitating to give it to you because it holds too many memories, unhappy ones, that is,” he said. “But seeing that you’re not any more affected by them than I am affected by my latest mortal trial, why don’t you keep it so we have a way to keep in touch if you’re ever in danger.”

He chuckled and carried on when Bai Qian showed some reluctance. “I know you have ways of contacting your friends and High God Moyuan. But who knows, you might get into a situation where there’s no magical means.”

After another few seconds, Bai Qian took the mirror. And she was glad to see that Yehua seemed slightly more relaxed now.

“It doesn’t always work,” he said. “And I might not keep it with me all the time; but it could prove useful one of these days.”

Bai Qian nodded and put the little thing away. She wanted to say something, something other than ‘thank you’, but words seemed to be stuck in her throat with no way of getting out.

“I almost forgot,” he changed the subject. “You need a weapon.”

She gave a slight nod. The view around suddenly looked a lot less charming.

“You haven’t found a replacement yet, I see,” he went on.

“No, I’ve tried several but none of them worked. Shifu’s looking for a way to mend the fan. But to be honest, I think he’s just trying to lift my spirits.”

Shifu?” Yehua tilted his head, looking confused.

“Yes,” Bai Qian nodded, peering at his expression. “Well, not yours, of course. I meant my -- Shifu.”

“I know whom you’re talking about,” he said, eyes filled with what seemed like questions and puzzled thoughts.

“Never mind,” he dismissed after another second or two. “What are you using now as a weapon?”

“Just a regular sword,” she sighed.

“You know,” Yehua cleared his throat, “we also have a large collection of weapons here in the Nine Heavens. It’s hard to find one that can both perform well in combat and channel magic, but you are welcome to take any one that satisfies your requirements.”

“Thank you,” she said, forcing a smile so as not to be rude to him.

But Yehua suddenly drew in a sharp breath and stared at her as if she’d just uttered something terrible. His eyes grew wide, his jaw clenching.

“Yehua…” she said, but he put a stop to her question with a shake of his head.

“Keep going,” he whispered, his eyes sweeping over the people who were passing by.

“What?” Bai Qian said suspiciously when she noticed his hand balled up at his side. “Yehua, what is it?”

“Don’t say anything. Just…” he grabbed her wrist and dragged her forward. Bai Qian shuddered - his hand was ice cold. His breathing was becoming short. “Just keep walking. Let’s head to A-li’s palace… He’s at the library now. His palace should be empty… ”

What is going on?” she hissed.

“Keep your voice down…” Yehua exhaled. “I’m not feeling very well.”

“What…” Bai Qian grimaced.

“There must have been something... in my wine…”

Bai Qian’s head shot up but Yehua briefly put his arm around her shoulders and forced her to walk on. Some bystanders near one of the decorative dragon statues threw funny smiles at her.

“What do you mean?” she uttered in alarm. “Poi...poison… poison? Is that what…”

Yehua’s head moved up and down, his eyes closing for a brief moment; and Bai Qian felt as if her soul had just been sucked out of her body. Like an instinct, she reached for his arm but he quickly caught her hand and gripped it tightly. “Keep your voice down.”

“Why?” Bai Qian could not process these words. “Why would… Why do we have to go to A-li’s?” she hissed, half wondering if the poison had gotten to Yehua’s head and debating if she should take charge and make him sit down.

“It’s the nearest place. We can’t let anyone see…”

“Good heavens, Yehua, are you insane! Why… You need a physician!”

“Listen to me…” he said forcefully, pulling her close. With almost no distance between them, Bai Qian could feel that in contrast to Yehua’s hands, his body temperature was alarmingly hot. “Just act natural until we get there,” he stared into her eyes. “The leaders in the court today... many of them are from tribes who are seeking to wage war with the Nine Heavens… What better opportunity…”

“I get it,” Bai Qian cut him off. She had understood this cryptic behavior now and her heart was pounding even harder inside her chest. “We can’t let them see the Crown Prince collapse.”

“Good…” Yehua put a hand on her shoulder, still looking as poised and calm as ever yet she could tell he needed the support. Red lines were starting to appear in his eyes but he refused to utter a sound.

A-li’s palace seemed like a thousand miles away and guests from the meeting were still strolling around for conversations, occasionally bowing to them. Putting one foot in front of the other, Bai Qian wondered how much longer Yehua could keep up this act and whether she was being too foolish to go along. If this was Moyuan who said he could bear the pain, she would have obeyed with some confidence. Yehua, however, always tended to overestimate his own tolerance.

Bai Qian breathed in relief when they reached the opened gate of A-li’s small palace. The two guards standing at the front bowed to them. And that was when Yehua decided he could no longer carry on.

Collapsing to the ground, he grimaced and let out a terrible grunt.

“Yehua!”

“Your Highness!” shrieked one of the guards.

“Help me take him inside,” Bai Qian cried. One of the bewildered guards stepped closer and clutched Yehua’s arm while Bai Qian turned to the other one. “Please go find High God Moyuan and Lord Donghua.”

Without a word, he zoomed away.

“Your Highness!” a female voice raised as they stumbled into the nearest room.

“High Goddess! What’s going on!”

Yehua, who seemed to have been claimed by the poison’s effect, looked as though he had lost the ability for independent movement. He dropped down on his back as soon as they reached the bed.

“What happened, High Goddess?” asked the guard. Bai Qian realized that he and the maid in a coral dress were staring at her, waiting for some kind of explanation and instruction.

“You,” Bai Qian said to the guard, “go get your Medicine King now. And… and…” she took in a gulp of air. “Go -- find Tianshu or Jiayun[2], tell them to go to the Peach Blossom Garden and get High God Zheyan. Just in case...”

Just in case your Medicine King proves to be useless, Bai Qian added in her head.

“Yes, High Goddess,”

“Wait…” Yehua’s frail voice spoke. All heads whipped in his direction.

“Yes --” said the guard nervously.

“Don’t let my mother... or the Skylord... know… don’t let them...”

“Yes, Your Highness --”

“Go,” Bai Qian urged. And he ran out of the room within a blink.

Zheyan… Bai Qian frantically ran through her memory. What had Zheyan said… What did he always say? Something needed to be done now even if the Medicine King was already on his way.

And then it hit her like a strike on the back of her head. Bai Qian turned to the maid, who was shaking from head to foot, staring at the scene with eyes like saucers.

“Get me some water,” Bai Qian said. If she could not trace the poison in his body, the best thing to do would be to delay its effect by dilution.

“Water?” she whimpered. “To… to drink?”

“Yes, to drink!” Bai Qian couldn’t believe the stupid question she’d just heard. “Get as much as you can. Now!”

“Yes,” the maid sounded almost like she was yelling back at Bai Qian; and she scurried towards the door.

Bai Qian dropped down at the bedside, clubbing Yehua’s face with her hands.

“Yehua… how do you feel?” she shook him. “What do you need? Tell me...”

“Burn…” he panted.

“What...?”

“I’m…” he gripped the front of his own robe, wincing. Ever word spoken seemed to cost him a terrible effort. “I can’t… It’s burning...”

Although unsure of what Yehua was trying to say, Bai Qian had noticed the amount of sweat on his forehead and neck.

She stood up, undid his belt and removed the black robe down to his abdomen.

The inner garment was soaked with sweat. His chest was moving up and down at a rapid pace as though it could explode any moment. And Bai Qian didn’t need to feel his forehead to know it was burning. He gasped for air and suddenly sprang up, grunting and looking as if he was going to throw up. But no such thing happened.

Dropping back down, Yehua endlessly twisted to either side. His breathing was like that of someone who’d just received lightning punishment.

“High Goddess!” someone screamed.

The maid had returned with what seemed to be as many goblets of water as she could fit into a tray and a flock of a few more maids. They too were carrying trays of goblets.

Bai Qian reached to grab one of the goblets. Some of its content spilled onto her clothes during the attempt.

“Yehua,” she flung her arm around his shoulders to lift him up. “You need to drink as much water as possible -- until the Medicine King comes --”

“What… bastard… dared…” he gritted his teeth.

“Just drink this,” she urged, pushing the goblet to his lips while her other hand holding the back of his neck tightly.

As soon as the cup was empty she snatched another from the tray and once again forced it down his throat. Half way through, Yehua abruptly pushed her hand aside and started to cough, water splattered from his mouth and drenched his robe while he clutched his chest in pain.

“Your Highness!” the maids exclaimed in hysteria. “High Goddess… what do we do!”

Though repulsed by what she was having to do, Bai Qian did not give up; she quickly got another goblet.

And another one.

“Yehua -- please drink,” she breathed out in exhaustion. “You have to drink --”

“High Goddess,” spoke a familiar voice.

Immediately afterward, a pair of hands gently took her by the shoulders and guided her upward. Bai Qian gasped and whipped around.

“Shifu…”

A powerful feeling of hope rose to Bai Qian’s heart at the sight of Moyuan like usual even though she knew for a fact he was no physician.

“Let me,” he said. Though Bai Qian did not really need this suggestion. She stood up and moved to where Donghua was at once, catching her breath.

Taking her place at the bedside, Moyuan lifted Yehua’s arm and began with some kind of tracing spell while the latter seemed to have drifted into unconsciousness.

“Yehua,” he called. But there wasn’t much of a response from Yehua except a groan of fatigue. Moyuan slowly raised his hand and, with two fingers, struck Yehua at the lower region of his throat, making him jerk up and once again look as if on the verge of regurgitating. But like before, he simply slumped back down.

One minute later, The Medicine King rushed in with his wooden box, followed by Jiayun, the Celestial soldier with a worried look on his face, which, at the moment, was greatly aggravated by the sight of the Crown Prince lying unconscious in bed.

“Jiayun,” said Donghua while the Medicine King proceeded to check Yehua’s pulse.

“Yes, Lord Donghua.”

“Lock down the Nine Heavens. Any trace of unfamiliar magic being cast to escape the protective shield, notify me immediately.”

“What about the guests from the meeting, my Lord?”

“If anyone wants to leave, make sure they present an identification before you let them out. No maids or guards are allowed to step out of the gate.”

“Yes,” bowed Jiayun and he dashed away instantly.

“High Goddess,” Donghua turned to Bai Qian. “A word with you, please.”

Confused and still worried out of her senses, Bai Qian kept glancing back as she followed Donghua out of the room.

“Do you happen to know where the Princess is at this moment?” he said when they were out of earshot, his face sprinkled with vivid concern.

“Princess…” Bai Qian frowned. “You mean — Fengjiu?”

“Yes.”

“She was at Qingqiu with my brother when I left for the meeting this morning,” she replied.

Donghua nodded and his expression significantly changed, as if Fengjiu being watched over was extremely good news.

“I think you might need to make a trip down the mortal realm, High Goddess,” he said.

“The mortal realm? Why?”

“To see the Ghost princess and your Senior and tell them to come back as soon as possible. I believe they might be in danger.”

“What do you mean, Lord Donghua? Who would want to harm them?”

“The attack on the Crystal Palace,” Donghua pondered. “The recent kidnaps. And now -- the Crown Prince is poisoned. All royalties -- well, leaders of clans who are taking actions to strengthen their armies and defenses, to be exact.”

Bai Qian looked to the side and thought for a while. Now that she knew Moyuan was with Yehua and the Medicine King was probably doing his job right, she had started to see the big picture again.

“You mean Yanzhi is probably being targeted?”

“Yes,” Donghua nodded. “The Ghost tribe is currently being watched over by a steward. The Princess and her niece are the only living heirs. If those from the dark side discover that they are unprotected—“

Bai Qian gulped.

“This is only my speculation, of course,” Donghua said “I might be wrong. It could be that the culprit, by poisoning the Crown Prince, merely wanted to test the Nine Heavens’ security to further enhance their plan. Your Senior and your friend may not be in any danger at all. But let’s not gamble with their lives by waiting to see if I am wrong.”

“I understand,” she glanced back at the room. It sounded even more panicky now but Donghua had spoken before she could ask any questions.

“Don’t worry, the Crown Prince will be taken care of.”

Bai Qian looked up at the pair of calm eyes, so calm they scared her sometimes.

“Are you — sure?” she uttered. ‘How do you know’ was more like the question she wanted to ask. But that, of course, would sound too disrespectful.

“Both Moyuan and I are capable of transferring healing powers. Should the Medicine King stumble, we will be able to at least keep the Crown Prince alive until Zheyan comes.”

Bai Qian nodded. She had to agree that her power would not be of much help even if she stayed. And if she hurried, she could bring Yanzhi and Zilan back within the hour.

“Now,” Donghua continued. “Take someone reliable with you and do not --“ he held up a finger -- “I am very serious, do not put yourself in danger. I’m not saying there will be danger, but if the situation doesn’t look promising, come back here and report.”

Chapter 1, Part 3
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[1] 迅爪 (lit. swift claw)
[2] Yehua’s confidants in the drama