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

Chapter 2 - The Woman

Part 2

written by LalaLoop
consultant Bunny
editor kakashi

“Tell me more about these Crafters,” Bai Qian swallowed her tea, her eyes glued to the King of Xunzhua who was giving her a suspicious look.

“Why the sudden interest?” he asked.

“I want to know. Tell me.”

“All right,” he shrugged and took a sip of tea. “The Crafters reside in a forest --”

“For… forest?”



“Not a Demon forest! An enchanted and well protected forest.”

“Oh,” Bai Qian breathed out. “Go on.”

“Crafters make one of a kind instruments, trade them to people who seek them for a price. But that’s not the point,” he held up a finger. “It is said that the Eldest of the Crafters has forged many weapons that hold great power, some of them possess hidden abilities that only their rightful wielders are aware of. You can come and negotiate with him, prove your worthiness, and he will bestow upon you whichever weapon suits you best. If possible, that is.”

“Worthiness—”

“A series of tests of strength and ability. You see, even if you are the strongest and the most cunning, if these Crafters deem you unworthy - and trust me, their standards are bizzare - they will not let you have the weapon of your desire. And even if you pass all their tests, have held the weapon in your hand but the weapon itself resists your touch, you would likely have to put it back. Because if there’s no compatibility between weapon and wielder, chances are it will not work as you command. You might as well use a wooden sword.”

“I see…”

“Now,” his voice reduced to a mysterious whisper. “Among these weapons is one that is rumored to be one of the strongest in all the realms, not in strength, but in its mental flexibility. It is said to understand its wielder’s mind. Because of this, it is extremely critical of any immortal who comes across it.”

“Critical?”

“Many have tried to win this weapon, but none of them succeeded. They all failed at one round or another. Also, it’s the Eldest of the Crafters’ favorite.”

“What kind of weapon is it?” Bai Qian asked.

“It’s a fan,” said Pojing.

At this, Bai Qian’s hand that was bringing the cup of tea to her lips froze.

“A — a fan?” she repeated, eyes wide and unblinking - a fan with no master hidden deep in an enchanted forest, waiting for someone to come and claim its allegiance? This could be the answer to her problem. Or better, it could be something meant just for her.

“Yes,” he nodded. “A fan of reasonable size, easy to channel magic through and can transform itself into a blade should the need arise.”

“Have you seen it?”

“No. But I’ve talked to those who have. They all say the same thing: it is one exquisitely beautiful weapon. Those who have laid their hands on it believe it is made from one of the strongest, rarest metals and with the most advanced craftsmanship.”

Bai Qian felt herself blazed with exhilaration just listening to this, her hands tingling, head buzzing with racing thoughts.

“Queen of Qingqiu,” Pojing threw his head at her all of a sudden. Bai Qian made an effort to suppress the overflowing happiness and turned to him. “Why are you asking about this? What happened to your legendary fan I’ve heard an earful of?” he asked.

Bai Qian silently grunted at his tone and went back to her tea.

Despite the fact that Pojing irritated her to no end without any effort, there was one positive thing that came out of their acquaintance: his knowledge in weaponry. This must be why Xunzhua had been chosen as a weapon supplier for the Nine Heavens.

Even though Pojing had repeatedly told her that his currently unconscious sister was the real expert out of the two, Bai Qian felt quite amazed by the sheer amount of research he had done on this particular field. Most importantly, what he had told her about the legendary Crafters had rekindled her hope of getting a new weapon that could replace the Kunlun fan.

“Did you hear what I said?” he asked again, his voice slightly raised.

“I’ll tell you later when we have time,” Bai Qian brushed off the topic. “But if these Crafters are so well known, why have I never heard of them before in lectures about weapon making?”

“They’re only well known among those who study the subject in depth; and also, because their magic is different. Maybe their items can be examined and analyzed once they’ve been made like any other ordinary weapon, but their methods are beyond technical comprehension.”

“Hang on,” Bai Qian jolted, “have they ever been able to fix a weapon with a broken core?”

“That’s not possible,” Pojing said, scoffing at her hopeful expression as if he thought she was losing her mind. “It’s written in every elementary book about weapons, Queen of Qingqiu. Plus, the Crafters don’t take orders like mortal blacksmiths, so if you’re planning on asking them to fix something, I suggest you abandon the idea straight away.”

Scalawag, Bai Qian scowled. But maybe he was right. If there were people out there who could fix weapons, Moyuan would have been the first one to know about it.

“Did you ever try to get this Crafters’ fan?” she asked.

“No,” Pojing shrugged, his voice going back to its usual careless tone.

“Why?”

“Well, it sounds glorious and all, but at the end of the day it’s still a fan.”

“So?” said Bai Qian, puzzled.

“Fans are for more delicate hands,” he replied casually. “And I have found my preferred type of weapon, I don’t need it.”

Delicate hands?

“Right,” Bai Qian said through her teeth, her irritation with this King coming back and overpowering her inclination to be kind to him. “I forgot you like claws.”

“Which saved your life,” he smirked. “Queen.”

Just wait until I am free of this life debt, Bai Qian deeply inhaled. Though she had to admit that the King had not made too many attempts to provoke her today. Could it be he was too worried about his sister to think of new insults? But no matter, what she cared most about now was the bit of information he’d just given her.

“King of Xunzhua,” said Changshan, who had entered the hall and was walking toward them. Just like Bai Qian, her Second Senior did not seem to approve much of Pojing’s casual pose. But outwardly, he maintained a hospitable look. “High God Zheyan has just finished healing your sister. He would like a word with you,” Changshan slightly dipped his head.

“Thank you,” said Pojing and he swiftly rose from his seat. Bai Qian blankly nodded as he exited the hall with her Second Senior.

A fan… A fan that could transform, Bai Qian smiled brightly, hope filling her every inch. When Pojing was done visiting his sister, she would ask him more about the Crafters and how to get to this place. And when she would have figured out a plan, she would tell...

“Seventeenth,” a hand placed upon her shoulder.

“Shifu!” Bai Qian jumped up from her seat.

“What are you looking so happy about?” he smiled at her.

“Happy? Er… I was just...” But Bai Qian’s attention quickly averted when she remembered why she had been waiting for Moyuan.

She had expressed the wish to see Yehua this morning because despite the Skylord’s reassurance, she needed to see with her own eyes Yehua was well. Since Moyuan was also wanting to visit the Nine Heavens, he’d asked her to wait while he and Zheyan tended to Zilan.

“What took you so long, Shifu?” she asked, hanging onto his arm. “Is Sixteenth Senior going to be all right? Is he awake yet?”

“He is still resting,” said Moyuan. “But it will not be long before he wakes.” His eyes then moved to look past her. “Is that my book?”

“Oh,” Bai Qian stooped and picked up the thick volume of text he was gesturing at. She had found the thing lying on the desk in her room this morning and had been reading it before Pojing began the conversation on the Crafters. “Shifu, this is a very informative book. I’ve gone through five chapters.”

“You have?” he smiled, his head tilting. “Tell me, what do you think about the discussion on Demons as a society in chapter three?”

Was he quizzing her? Bai Qian giggled. It seemed she wasn’t the only one who found it hard to forget their time together before the Ghost war after all - his tendency to act as a mentor came almost as naturally as breathing.

“Seventeenth?”

“I think it’s a little biased,” she quickly answered, taking her eyes off of him. “The writer praises Demons’ culture and combat skills too much it sounds like he’s willing to overlook their vulgar nature and questionable ideologies.”

“I see,” Moyuan nodded.

“Do you agree?”

“I agree that the writer is very biased. Though he isn’t wrong to praise the Demons for their skills and strong determination in battle.”

Bai Qian pressed her lips together - did the God of War just compliment Demons on combat skills?

As if sensing her skepticism, he went on. “Not all Demons are the same. Regarding their skills, Demons are trained differently and develop abilities even we Celestials lack. When you have gotten to know a few that are not -- well -- adductors, you’ll find that some of them are quite sophisticated.”

“Sophisticated?” Bai Qian stared. “Demons?”

Moyuan laughed lightly at her expression. “Do you find that so unbelievable?”

“Yes,” she said truthfully. There was no way she could associate people from the Demon clan with sophistication, not from what she had heard and seen so far - everything from the way they dressed to their eagerness to utilize dark magic. Perhaps there were good Demons out there, but evidently she had not met any.

“Unless you can point me to a Demon individual who fits that description, Shifu, otherwise, I don’t think I can believe it. And to be honest, I also don’t understand most of their beliefs.”

“What beliefs?”

“From the beginning of time, Demons are known to have done insane things,” Bai Qian said fiercely. “They’re just… they are odd,” she grimaced. “They always violate magical rules. They believe in magic that we have no proof exists. They’ve messed with enigmatic spells and tried worse things than Qingcang’s blood curse.”

Moyuan laughed again, his tone full of helplessness yet with a bit of adoration.

“You are very observant and thorough in your research, Seventeenth. You always are. But this, this is the problem - you turn your back to whatever you can’t understand and you never accept something unless you can rationalize it. And this is the method you apply in --” he chuckled hopelessly -- “in everything. Nothing can move forward if you insist on remaining static in your beliefs.”

Bai Qian frowned - this was not the first time she’d heard this. The Old Phoenix had also told her so on many occasions. Whether this remark of Moyuan’s might be accurate, Bai Qian hadn’t yet decided, but she somehow felt it was a little off the point. Especially...

“Move — forward?” she repeated uncomprehendingly. “I don’t think I understand.”

“Never mind then,” he said. “It’s my fault for straying off topic.”

“So —” Bai Qian hesitated. “Concerning Demons, you have no proof that I’m wrong?”

“No,” Moyuan slightly shook his head, smiling. “I have no proof. Not one that you will accept, that is.”

A brief silence fell between them where Bai Qian rejoiced her victory.

“Did you mark the page where I left off?” Moyuan suddenly gestured at the book she was now hugging close to her chest, a crease appearing between his brows.

Bai Qian gasped and turned the book’s fore edge to face her. “I’m sorry,” she looked back at Moyuan.

“Oh, but I think I remember. It should be about --” she started flipping the pages forward. “Here!”

“Yes, that is -- ” Moyuan took a look at the page she had presented to him --“only about three chapters off.”

Bai Qian retrieved the book and brought it back to her side, her face reddening as their eyes met.

“It’s all right,” the corner of his lips lifted. “I will find it later. Let us leave for the Nine Heavens if you are ready.”

“I am,” she said right away, set the book down and followed Moyuan as he headed out of the hall.

Once they were outside, however, she began to think that perhaps she should not have asked to come along with him after all.

“Are you going to cloud-jump?” Bai Qian asked, slowly moving closer to him. Cloud-jumping with Moyuan was not her favorite thing to do unless a pack of wild wolves was chasing after them and speed was needed to stay alive.

“Yes,” he answered. “I will, of course, ask that you do not try to stab me again.”

“Shifu --” Bai Qian sighed. “There was fog, I didn’t know it was you.”

“Take my arm, please,” Moyuan said, sounding amused. And Bai Qian did. “And Seventeenth,” he continued. “When you see Yehua, tell him I hope he’s feeling better.”

“Are you not --” Bai Qian stopped herself from asking the rest of the question. Of course she could not expect Moyuan to come with her to Xiwu palace. Regardless of what Yehua had said, her appearance along with Moyuan before him would be too insensitive a thing to do at this time.

Cold air rushed into her lungs as they took off and about four seconds after, Bai Qian found herself standing in front of the Nine Heaven’s gate.



“Let me go and inform the Crown Prince, High Goddess,” said Nainai, the friendly head maid of Xiwu palace and, in Bai Qian’s opinion, one of a few decent ones who did not spend her time gossiping about the people she served.

Nainai reappeared almost instantly and bowed, gesturing for Bai Qian to come inside.

Bai Qian sniffled uncomfortably as she recalled the last time she’d been in this room. Almost everything was the same - the desk full of scrolls, the clothes rack on which hung several black robes, extravagant and quite unnecessary candle holders standing in every corner.

“Qianqian,” Yehua was standing in front of his bed. It seemed he had made an effort to rise while he was supposed to be lying down. Bai Qian hastily walked over to save him the time and energy. Though when when she was going to inquire after his health, Yehua had beat her to it.

“Thank heavens you’re all right,” he exclaimed, seizing both of her hands and holding them tightly. “What happened? Did you run into Demons or Ghost assassins? Did you get hurt?”

“Demons. We met with an ambush and my Senior was...” But before Bai Qian could finish, Yehua had pulled her into a hug that almost crushed her upper body.

“Demons...” he said under his breath. “I knew it. They’ve gone much too far lately.”

“Ye --”

“I beg your pardon,” Yehua suddenly broke his hold and put a distance between them. “I forgot for a moment. It’s just… I’ve been terribly worried.”

Bai Qian smiled nervously. This was how Yehua always was to her and A-li - unable to reign in his emotions whenever he thought either of them was hurt. The familiarity of his arms was undeniable, yet it brought her more sadness and guilt than anything else.

“It doesn’t matter,” she said when the fleeting sensation was gone.

Yehua exhaled in relief, his hands sliding down her arms to grasp her hands again. “What did the Demons do? Did they hurt you?”

Bai Qian hesitated - there would be no point in upsetting Yehua with details about what had happened to her and her friends in the Demons’ forest. That wasn’t what she had come here for.

“No, I didn’t get hurt,” she said. “We -- er -- had some help, so the Demons didn’t get a chance to harm us.”

Yehua frowned and scanned her from head to foot, evidently finding her answer not believable. “Where were you when you tried to reach me through the mirror then?”

“Well, I was --” she paused and looked at him. “The mirror? You mean it worked?”

“Of course it worked,” Yehua let out a soft laugh. “Your voice was very faint but I heard it. That’s how I knew you were in danger. I was too tired to do anything so I gave it to -- to High God Moyuan. He was no better than I was at the time but he left to look for you anyway.”

“What do you mean?” said Bai Qian, brought up short. “Why would he -- What happened to him?”

Yehua looked at her for a moment as if he thought she was joking. Then he sat down on his bed. “High God Moyuan did not tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

“He was poisoned too. Whoever it was must have targeted us both, and they were successful indeed.” Yehua looked into the distance, quiet anger radiating from his eyes, spreading across his face. “Heavens know, they could have wanted Lord Donghua to swallow some of that poison too. Lucky for us, he did not drink any wine that day.”

Bai Qian stood and digested the information in silence. She was not surprised that Moyuan had not told her, not at all. But still, his chronic habit of concealing things like this never failed to set her teeth on edge. And how could someone who had been poisoned still find the strength to fly a sword across the Demon realm and back to Kunlun? Bai Qian’s eyes rolled - it wasn’t the moon that had made him look pale last night at all.

A muffled grunting sound chased all of Bai Qian’s thoughts away and when she turned her head, she almost panicked out loud to see Yehua clutching his side painfully.

“Yehua!” she grabbed his arms.

“It’s fine,” he waved.

“No, it’s not!” Bai Qian cried and guided him back onto bed. “Please get back to your rest. Listen, if anything happens to you, I’m going to be --”

“Your Highness, High Goddess,” a sweet voice rang and Nainai appeared from behind the divider, in her hands a tray with various things on top - a small bowl that contained some sort of brown liquid, a cup of water, and a white cloth. She set the items on the low table and bowed, beaming at them. “This is your medicine, Your Highness.”

Bai Qian took up the bowl as Nainai retreated out. But as she brought the medicine close to Yehua’s face, his hand reached up and pushed it aside.

“You’re going to be what?” he asked, his voice softened.

“Sorry?”

“What you were saying.”

“Er --” Bai Qian bit her lip. It was only a silly thought, a sentiment that perhaps no longer applied. Too silly she would not tell anyone beside Moyuan. Would Yehua laugh at her if she let him know?

“What?” he pressed her on.

“It’s really stupid.”

“I’m sure it isn't. Tell me.”

“It’s something that’s ingrained in my head --” she sighed, looking away -- “because I’d been taking care of you for a long time before you belonged to the Celestial family. Ever since Shifu asked me to. And every time something happened to you back then, whenever the wind blew you to a dry corner of the pond, for instance, or if anyone accidentally threw something at you, my first thought would be ‘Shifu’s going to scold me’,” she blinked - why wasn’t he laughing yet? Even she was wanting to laugh at herself. “I lost that sense of responsibility after you left Kunlun. But I found it again when Shifu told me of your origin. After—after the battle.”

“Hmm,” Yehua nodded. “Yes, some things are just -- ingrained.”

At this remark Bai Qian turned to face him, and she was mortified to see the look in his eyes. It was as if a mask had been shed - she had gone too far with the sentimentality. Bai Qian set down the bowl of medicine and drew away, her hands properly folded on her lap.

“I told you it was stupid,” she said, looking at him intensely. “Listen to me, if it ever becomes a problem, if I ever step over the line we’ve established, you have to let me know.”

“Not -- at the moment,” said Yehua, leaning back against the bed’s wooden headboard, smiling, as if to mock her seriousness.

An acute silence fell between them during which Yehua kept looking at her straight in the eyes, seemingly wanting to express how he thought she was being unreasonably anxious. Perhaps she was? Bai Qian thought as she stared back.

With a small smile, she dropped her guard and picked up the ceramic bowl. Carefully she brought it close to his lips again and waited as he downed its content. Yehua’s willingness to let her look after him, even if it only lasted a minute, made Bai Qian strangely happy, as if she had been sent back in time. Back to the peaceful days at Kunlun.

Not entirely… she let out a sigh of irritation when Pojing’s words about the Mermaid war suddenly flowed back to her mind.

“Yehua,” said Bai Qian after a brief moment. “I want to to ask you something.”

“Of course. Anything.” Yehua reached for the cup of water, which she quickly seized and handed him.

“And -- er --” she continued cautiously. “If you don’t want to answer me, just say so. It’s impossible to get everything right all the time, so I won’t think badly of you even if you really made a mistake.”

“What is it?” he chuckled.

“The war with the Merpeople 300 years ago,” she began. The moment the words left her mouth, however, Yehua’s expression hardened. “Was there a reason why you rushed into battle despite opposing opinions?”

“And why do you suddenly care about this war?”

“Well, that feline told me… I mean…” Bai Qian gasped, that King of Xunzhua’s constant attempts in insulting speech had had a bad influence on her! “I mean that… I have heard some negative talk toward you because of the decision you made. And I can’t defend you if I don’t know the details.”

“You don’t have to defend me,” he laughed, quite bitterly. “Yes, I made a mistake.”

“A mistake?”

“Don’t we all make mistakes no matter how carefully we tread? That was a great mistake that brought misery to many people. Even now I regret it. And I simply don’t wish to talk about it.”

“I’m sorry,” Bai Qian said quickly, a little dazed by this curt reply. Whatever the reason, Yehua’s every movement and look seemed to be indicating disinterest in the matter. “I won’t ask you again.”

“Thank you. If you need dates and numbers, the Celestial records can provide them. But Qianqian,” he sat up a little. “That was a very long time ago, it no longer matters, don’t bother with it.”

“If you say so,” Bai Qian shrugged, taking the empty cup from Yehua’s hand and trying to hide the fact that his confession about making a mistake had heightened her curiosity.


...


Perhaps Moyuan was going to tell her about him being poisoned after they would have come back today? Bai Qian huffed irritably on the way to Taichen Palace, the place she expected Moyuan to be at the moment. She walked in the direction Nainai had pointed to when she’d left Xiwu Palace with her head full of thoughts on everything from Yehua’s puzzling reaction at the mention of the Mermaid war to Pojing’s account of the Crafters’ weapons, which was why she had to stop occasionally and check with a celestial guard or maid if she was still on the right track to Donghua’s place.

At the gate of Taichen Palace, Bai Qian was greeted by the Star Lord and Chengyu’s gleeful faces and with several questions, most of which were about Fengjiu. Only when the Star Lord remembered that the Third Prince Liansong had been waiting for them all this while did they let Bai Qian pass and proceed into the palace.

Entering the front building, Bai Qian looked around at the wooden shelves. Where were Moyuan and Donghua?

But she found the latter without much effort, Donghua’s silver hair against his dark purple robe was a sight no one could miss. He was currently sitting at a desk in a wide corner, gazing at something on its surface.

“Lord Donghua,” she curtsied.

There was no answer.

Had he not heard her?

Quietly Bai Qian walked toward him. But the closer she got, the more she felt he was ignoring her on purpose. Donghua kept his eyes indefinitely on what Bai Qian had recognized as a large and old piece of paper that contained some inked images on his desk, not sparing a look for the one approaching him. What was he so glued into? And where could Moyuan be right now if not here?

“Lord Donghua,” Bai Qian said again when it was obvious Donghua was not going to acknowledge her.

“Ahh, High Goddess,” he said without looking up. “If you are looking for Moyuan, he is not here yet. But he should be very soon.”

Something wasn’t right, Bai Qian thought as she observed the former ruler of the Nine Heavens. He was strangely quiet and unfocused. His eyes were set on the piece of paper yet his mind seemed to be elsewhere. He did not even bother asking her about the Demons. Had something happened between him and Fengjiu? Bai Qian inched closer to the desk and knelt down. Donghua made no comment as she did so.

It was a painting on the desk that he had been absorbed in, a painting of four children playing on a green meadow, one of them had lighter hair color than the others and one was, Bai Qian peered closer to the illustration, definitely a girl for she was wearing her hair down and slippers with flowery patterns.

“Excuse me,” Donghua said suddenly. Bai Qian head shot up as he spoke and down again at the painting. “I was lost in time for a moment.”

Lost in time? Bai Qian’s eyes narrowed. She did not understand this very much but was too afraid to ask for clarification for Donghua did not look like he was interested in conversation. In fact, it almost felt as if Donghua was wanting her to keep admiring this painting with him. Bai Qian quietly went back to look at the skillfully made strokes of ink of the artwork.

The paper looked ancient. There was discoloration and smeared ink on some corners though the content in the center was clean and the colors had not yet faded.

Three boys and a girl, Bai Qian noted, all wearing white...

And then, it struck her - the girl’s hair was half put up and held together by a pin. A very large hairpin with a clementine butterfly on one end.

Like a child who had found her long lost toy, Bai Qian sprang up on her knees, her entire body hovering over the desk. Only when she felt the silk robe brushing against her arm did she realize she had taken up Donghua’s space.

On her knees she moved a few inches away and reached forward to touch the little girl’s hair, staring at the large ornament. Butterfly…

Her eyes quickly swept across the other three children. One with light hair color, standing at a far end…

“This… this is you,” she uttered.

“Yes, it is,” came Donghua’s reply.

“Zheyan,” Bai Qian whispered, her fingers gliding to the other boy who was slouching on the grass.

Then, her hand slightly trembled as it reached the last boy, the one closest to the little girl. He was smiling.

He looked happy.

“Shifu.”

For some unknown reason, Bai Qian found herself smiling along with the children in the painting, a feeling of peace filling her heart, the very same emotion she had felt the first time she’d set eyes on the butterfly hairpin in the wooden box.

So this… Bai Qian’s gaze went back to the girl.

This must be her.

Chapter 2, Part 3