Fanfiction: Moyuan and Bai Qian, Book 2 - Chapter 12, Part 4 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 12 - Detour

Part 4

written by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi
consulting by Bunny

“Protective…” his voice was fainter than a whisper. “Protective enchantments --”

Right, Bai Qian pushed herself up and scrambled on her feet. Curse-repellent Charm, Invisibility Shield, sound-proof… Still frightened to the bones, she waved her arm around the dark area they had just landed on, creating layers of charm to surround them, mumbling the spell names to make sure she didn’t forget any.

The second she was done with the last spell, Bai Qian wheeled back around at Moyuan. She bolted over, sank on her knees and helped him sit up straight. Catching his breath, he looked at her with great relief.

“I’m sorry,” sobbing, she struggled to get the words out. “I had to do that -- otherwise he wouldn’t believe --”

“I know…”

“I’m sorry,” she brushed her fingers over the blood stains on the side of his face, lingering for a moment, and flung her arms around him again. “Oh god, I’m sorry…”

“It’s all right, Seventeenth --”

All right? He looked half dead just a minute ago!

“Please tell me your injuries are only external,” she said with urgency. “You haven’t lost any cultivation, have you? What were those ropes? Did they really burn? Was Luoji only threatening me?”

“They burned,” came Moyuan’s slightly amused answer. “Luoji -- doesn’t make empty threats when it comes to… demonstrating his powers.”

Bai Qian looked up. “Would he have killed you?”

“There was a chance, there always is --”

She exhaled, terrified at her gamble earlier. She had seen what Sufeng had done to Pojing, how ruthless these people were. Luoji wasn’t so different from his followers, he would kill anyone in his way, depending on how much he wanted something. And betting on his interest in keeping Moyuan alive…. That was a card she would never have the guts to play again.
“What are you thinking wandering in the Void alone?” a hopeless scolding. There was a slight tremor in Moyuan’s hands that were on either of her shoulders, as though he was as frightened as she was.

“I didn’t think I would meet with the world’s most dangerous immortal on the first sky island I landed on,” Bai Qian said bitterly.

What would Luoji have done to her if Moyuan hadn’t come? Would he have tortured the truth about the hairpin out of her, taken her hostage to control Qingqiu? To think that she had actually been about to consider his offer, was taken in by his… charms? Mysteriousness? What had she been thinking, indeed? Bai Qian squeezed her eyes shut and tried to shake the memory away.

“Shifu, I’m sorry,” she said again, drawing a bit away and scanning the gashes the ropes had left across his chest, his arms, his shoulders.

“Don’t worry, I have never been happier to get tortured in my life.”

“What?” Bai Qian winced, but at the same time felt rather glad - she shouldn’t have to worry if this was a Shapeshifter at all, only Moyuan could talk about being nearly crushed and burned alive by fire ropes in this manner.

“I don’t know how Luoji discovered about the hairpin, but…” he took in a painful breath. “The one you gave him should give us some time, much more time than if he had decided to attack Qingqiu or Xunzhua right away to acquire it.”

“Do these still hurt?” Bai Qian pointed at the blood marks all over his clothes. The subject of the hairpin could wait, anything could wait.

“Well --” It was clear that he was going to say that everything was fine again, but decided there was no point. “Yes.”

Before she could utter another apology, he pressed her back into his chest.

He didn’t kill Zheyan, a mad, fierce wave of joy swept through Bai Qian, her arms clenching him. She might be hurting him, might be hindering his healing powers, but since he didn’t say anything, she would not let go. For all the times she had wanted to embrace him but couldn’t. For every day, every hour they’d had to spend apart.

***

It was dark. Only a few flickers of light could be seen in the houses that they were passing. But that was just the problem - there were more houses than she remembered, a lot more.

“This doesn’t look like the way to that safehouse,” Bai Qian squinted around suspiciously as she and Moyuan walked along the path that, according to him, led to the Kunlun safehouse they had stayed in last time.

“It is,” said Moyuan. “It’s been years in the mortal realm. Things change. Have you forgotten?”

That’s right, Bai Qian sighed hopelessly at herself. It had been thirty or fifty years at least. Of course there would be new houses in this area.

Moyuan had barely said anything from the beginning of their walk, Bai Qian doubted he had the strength to. Just a few more steps and they would reach the safehouse, could rest with some peace of mind. She turned up at him - the moon was bright enough for her to make out the features of his face, how tired he looked. The few minutes of meditation earlier inside the shield had helped him catch his breath and get back on his feet, but clearly hadn’t undone the damage inflicted on his powers. Bai Qian inched towards him as they kept going, pressing his hand that had not let go of hers for a while. And she too remained quiet for the rest of the way.

With a spell, they walked through the shield around the safehouse that had appeared behind a group of trees, far away from the other mortal dwellings. But Bai Qian stopped dead the moment there were inside.

Light. The house was lit on the inside.

“Shifu, someone’s here,” she whispered.

Moyuan seemed to have noticed this too, but he did not respond right away. The last time they’d been at this place, he had told her that the only other people who knew of this safehouse were Changshan, Zheyan, and…

A blur of something silver dashed by the window.

“Lord Donghua!” Bai Qian’s guess slipped out of her mouth.

Not two seconds later, the front door swung open and there he stood, the former Lord of the Nine Heavens - calm, yet clearly alert. He was not wearing the usual purple color but instead a dark robe with tight sleeves and a thick, wide belt - like someone on a mission and not the normally bored God who would sit on the side of the Celestial Court, watching others argue. There were even some small scratches on the side of his otherwise flawless face.

He’s not hurt, either, Bai Qian silently rejoiced. At least he seemed to have recovered from that night.

But Donghua said nothing to them, his sharp stare sweeping from Moyuan’s injuries to Bai Qian face as he approached. Then, in a flash, his sword was in his hand, its pointy tip coming straight at her.

“Donghua --” Moyuan seized her shoulder in an attempted to push her aside.

But the second Bai Qian’s fan was summoned and raised for defense, Donghua pulled back.

“New fan?” he asked.

“Well... yes!” Bai Qian uttered, still having no clue what was going on. “My old fan is broken, Lord Donghua, you know this!”

Donghua lowered his sword. “My apology, I had to check. Luoji’s Shapeshifters are extraordinarily powerful and Moyuan might have been fooled. They infiltrated the Nine Heavens right under our watch, after all. But I figured none of them know your old Kunlun fan is broken yet, or what it looked like exactly.”

Bai Qian breathed out, cold still prickling the back of her neck. “Well, don’t I -- don’t we get to ask you a question too?” she blurted out.

The silver-haired God smirked - a familiar gesture that, after the terrible ordeal on the sky island - made her unexpectedly glad inside. “Only Moyuan’s close friends and his Second Disciple know the spell of entry to this place,” he said. “But go ahead, I’m curious.”

“Where did you… er…” Bai Qian swallowed, thinking of something that didn’t sound too stupid. “Where did you find my broken Kunlun fan?”

“Practical,” he remarked. “But a bit uncreative. I found it at the steps that led to Kunlun’s grand hall. Are we good?”

She nodded. Was that too easy?

“What happened, Moyuan?” Donghua moved on to ask.

“A great deal,” answered Moyuan; and as calm as he remained, gladness had made its way to his eyes as he looked upon his friend. “It is -- rather complicated. Why are you here?”

“I passed by and needed a rest. I didn’t expect to meet you here today.”

They didn’t sound like this was the first time they’d met after the Nine Heavens had fallen, Bai Qian observed as they all made their way into the house. It was well lit, warm, and exactly how she remembered it.

As soon as the two men settled down at the kitchen table, Bai Qian asked right away, not bothering to sit down.

“Lord Donghua, if you’re here then -- Fengjiu -- where’s Fengjiu?”

“Safe,” he replied, to her great relief. “She is with Si-ming at another safehouse. I can’t tell you where, just in case you get captured by the other side. Not that I am hoping it would happen.”

“Of course,” Bai Qian nodded. Knowing that Fengjiu was safe was more good news than she’d hoped for today. “I understand.”

“Now,” he contemplated. “How much do you know?”

“Me?” Bai Qian was puzzled for a second.

“Yes.”

She hesitated. “I know that you are -- looking for something -- things -- that Luoji wants to keep secret.”

“Yes? What else?”

“Zheyan didn’t…” she glanced at Moyuan then back at Donghua’s narrowed eyes. “He didn’t…”

“I see,” Donghua nodded, indicating that she didn’t have to finish that sentence. And Bai Qian was only too happy to comply. She didn’t want to talk about Zheyan with anyone but Moyuan.

“What happened tonight?” asked Donghua.

“Luoji,” Moyuan said simply.

Then, Bai Qian recounted her unexpected encounter with the Dark Immortal, as quickly as she could, leaving out how she had been too criminally close to him for god knew how long.

“Impressive,” said Donghua. Bai Qian didn’t know what exactly he was calling impressive - Zhuowei’s fake hairpin, Luoji’s victory over Moyuan in the duel, or her own little trick in the end.

“But that means you need healing, Moyuan,” Donghua pointed out.

Yes! Bai Qian lit up.

“No,” Moyuan said adamantly. “I will not lie, I do need healing. But I can heal myself. Save your strength, Donghua, you need every bit of it.”

Donghua did not argue. Instead, he turned to her.

“So, you gave Luoji a fake, hmm?”

“Yes,” she mumbled.

“Was it hard trying to pry the real one out of the God of War’s hand?” his lips tugged upward.

Taken aback, Bai Qian stammered for a while before she could answer. “Yes… er -- how do you know…”

“You haven’t told her?”

“There was no time,” said Moyuan quietly.

“Did the Ghost Princess tell you that someone saved one of her soldiers from the consequences of eavesdropping on Luoji’s servants?” Donghua asked her.

“Erm…” Bai Qian searched her memories - Yanzhi had said this. “Yes.”

“That soldier would have been dead. The servants he happened to hear talk about this device were Sufeng and the Spinner. He was quick, but not quick enough for them.”

“You?” Bai Qian jerked back. “You saved Yanzhi’s soldier?”

She remembered now how Pojing had wondered about this soldier’s miraculous escape and the seemingly extremely confidential information about the device he’d gotten.

“Yes,” Donghua said.

“So, you --” she frowned. “It was you who wanted us to take the hairpin out of Kunlun?”

“Yes, there wasn’t time to explain to even the God of War. I needed to prepare for the worst. Xunzhua has the best shields in the eight realms and I figured if the worst happened, you all would choose this location to safekeep anything valuable or to reside at, as you are now, I presume?”

“Yes, but… how did you know we would decide to get this device, or that some of us wouldn’t object to this idea?”

“I didn’t know any of that,” he said casually. “Sometimes the best plan doesn’t equal an elaborate explanation too all that are involved, but one made from your knowledge of others’ abilities and disposition. Especially now - anyone who knows too much is in danger. This Ghost soldier managed to get that close to Sufeng and the Spinner, he isn’t some low rank soldier and must at least be a well trained spy from the Ghost Army. The way he fought Sufeng and their exchanges confirmed it, he was even going to sacrifice himself so Sufeng would not be able to extract any information about the Ghost Princess from him. The Ghost Princess has heard enough stories of her father’s endless searches for dark devices, and she talks to you very often. If both you and her suspected that Moyuan was using this hairpin to resurrect the Demon Queen and that Luoji was also looking for it, what would be the most logical thing to do after --” he took an abrupt pause. For once in all her time knowing him, there was something other than indifference in his eyes - it was an emotion, a pain strong enough to alter his eloquence.

“What would be the most logical thing to do after what you’ve witnessed at Zhuxian Terrace?” he finished the question, a lift of his lips masking the emotion that had stirred him on the inside.

Take the device and bring it to Xunzhua, Bai Qian answered the question in her head, not sure what to make of this disclosure yet. But she realized that Donghua’s cold practicality was much easier for her to deal with than Moyuan’s tendency to take the worst blame upon himself. He never bothered to hide the fact that literally everything save for Fengjiu was just a chess game to him, so neither would she have to hold back on her questions.

“But -- you didn’t know that I knew about the hairpin.”

“You are right,” he smiled. “I didn’t. But my guess at the time was that you have seen the inside of the Master of Kunlun’s meditation room frequently enough to know where the wooden box is.”

“What if -- I really didn’t know?” Bai Qian asked on.

“Then Moyuan would have had to take this device to Xunzhua himself at some point,” Donghua shrugged. “I, however, believed that the sooner it reached Xunzhua, the safer it would be. Also, none of us should be worried about more than one potentially explosive device at once.”

“But suppose I…” she gulped. “Wanted to use the device to try and undo what happened to Zheyan --”

“That would be the opposite of sensible. And I know I can always count on you to be sensible, High Goddess. I mean -- look at what you allowed the Dark Immortal to do to Moyuan.”

Bai Qian’s face instantly felt like a ball of fire. She didn’t have the heart to be proud of the incident on the sky island earlier at all. Sensible? They were only lucky that Moyuan hadn’t been killed. She looked towards him - they had much to talk about. No amount of time would be enough.

“Don’t blame Moyuan,” said Donghua. “He didn’t know at the time, either. But good improvisation, God of War,” he gave his friend a particularly pleased nod. “I would have been disappointed if you still had that hairpin with you. Xunzhua might be able to do what we couldn’t all along. And I hope I didn’t cause you too much trouble?”

“No,” Moyuan sighed, not bothering to veil the sarcasm which he obviously knew wouldn’t do a thing to affect his friend anyway in his voice. “No trouble at all.”

“I have to leave.” Donghua shot up from his seat and his expression became stern.

“Be careful,” Moyuan said as they exchanged a look with sudden grimness, enough of it to fill the whole house.

“I will,” he strode to the front door. “Get the rest you need, Moyuan. And keep in touch.”

How do they even keep in touch? Bai Qian wondered, but then she suddenly remembered something much more important.

“Lord Donghua,” she ran towards him as he turned back. “I know Fengjiu wouldn’t leave you even if her father comes to drag her home himself, so please take care of her.”

“With my life,” were his last words before he disappeared into the night, as fast as a streak of lightning.