Fanfiction: Moyuan and Bai Qian, Book 2 - Chapter 12, Part 10 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 12 - Detour

Part 10

written by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi
consulting by Bunny
Yehua took in the view around the safehouse his brother had led him to as he took his seat at the bamboo table. He had not dared visit any of the Nine Heavens’ safehouses since that day. He had had very little hope of any of them not being taken by Luoji’s people.

Bai Qian had left them and gone to town to - as she had told him - get more food. Though, Yehua understood very well that she had no wish to disturb the conversation he was about to have with the God of War.

On his way here, he had mentally come up with a long list of questions. Though, as Yehua looked at his older brother who was sitting opposite of him, the memory of that brief and unexplainable vision he’d had of Fuxi during the battle at Ruoshui River raced through his mind.

He’d been protected by this person, the God of War, for quite a long time. He had been awed by, had - for a while - hated, and had looked up to him. There might have been disagreements between them, but he’d never forgotten that this high god whom the eight realms revered was his brother. And more important than the information, or the plan, or whatever scheme the Dark Immortal was concocting, Yehua wanted to let this so-called brother of his know in plain words that keeping secrets, not communicating, and steering others to serve a plan was not what family did to one another.

“Tell me what Bai Qian has told you, Yehua,” said Moyuan before Yehua could make any of his comments aloud. “And I will tell you everything else.”

Yes, it had better be everything, Yehua thought as he began relaying what he understood so far. He could not stand being kept in the dark any longer, could not stand living in constant fear that he would lose the family he’d just found, not that his parents’ absence wasn’t already a source of distress for him.

At the end of Yehua’s account, the God of War wasted no time in giving his explanations.

***

Every questions Yehua had, it was answered; every doubt, cleared.

A plan.

A goal. A chance to see his home again. It was more than he could ask for. But rather than an expression of gratitude, what came out of his mouth in a voice smaller than he’d intended was something else.

“Who knew about your plan before Qianqian, High God?”

“Excuse me?” asked his older brother. Though Yehua was certain he had heard him.

“Who knew about this besides Lord Donghua and High God Zheyan?”

For the first time since the day he had known his brother, Yehua could detect something - hesitance, guilt - on the God of War’s face as he said, “Does it matter?”

He didn’t reply but instead remained silent, insistent on an answer.

Moyuan took another second, then said, “Two of my disciples and a few people from Penglai.”

“A few,” Yehua repeated dully. “How many?”

“Two. Perhaps three.”

“And… who else?”

“Si-ming and High God Zheyan’s mount.”

“I see,” indignation surged inside Yehua as he rose from his seat, and he struggled to rein in his anger. “It was imperative that I was not told of your plan, but about a dozen people who are not your family knew every detail about it.”

“Not every detail,” Moyuan said. “Each of them only knew what was necessary to carry out their task.”

“I do not understand how you could do this.”

“Yehua, I needed to ensure Luoji believed what happened at Zhuxian Terrace. If he suspected anything, High God Zheyan’s sacrifice would have been in vain --”

Yehua interrupted that explanation with a sigh - it was remarkable to him how someone who understood his enemy’s every move so thoroughly and had concocted such a plan could also be so oblivious to what others might be feeling as a result of his maneuvering.

“I understand your reason,” Yehua said quietly. “But you have always had a way to get in touch with me. Why didn’t you?”

“I did not want to risk it,” came the simple and slightly apologetic answer. “Luoji’s spies are always circling me and Donghua, while I have been successful in keeping them away from my pursuit of the devices, trying to reach you too soon could have alerted them.”

That, he could not argue against.

“I am sorry, Yehua,” said Moyuan. “The fact that you are my family is precisely why I needed to keep this from you as long as possible. If there was any hint that you or Bai Qian knew something, Luoji would do what he could to capture you, or use A-li to control you and get the information he wanted.”

Once again, Yehua was unable to retort no matter how much he wanted to. The God of War had needed them to survive and prepare for what was coming, he could not tell them everything in advance and risk making them targets, just like Master Gejing. Though, having understood this did not alleviate Yehua’s displeasure with the entire thing. He believed he could have been informed of this plan and not easily ruined it even if he was taken prisoner by Luoji like Moyuan had worried. Was it selfish of him to expect the God of War to be more like a brother when his being a strategist was what had been distracting Luoji for them so far?

Yes, perhaps it was, considering how he’d never once addressed the high god as his brother. Still, he could have been told if only a part of the plan.

Though perhaps dwelling on this now was not the best way to make use of their time before they each had to go back to their duty. Yehua brushed aside the subject as his mind travelled to the next shocking bit of information he had learned today - that Demon Queen, alive.

“You said Luoji believes you are -- emotionally compromised because of this Demon Queen?”

“He should now,” replied Moyuan.

“But why did he conclude that you were involved with that woman in the first place?”

A small smile appeared on the God of War’s face. “Why did you?”

“I didn’t -- that is, I had my suspicions --”

“You say ‘complicated’ and people will believe whatever they want to believe,” said Moyuan. “Luoji wanted to prove so much that Celestials are hypocrites. He wanted to see me throw away my principles and betray my own clan for an enemy, wanted to feel the thrill of breaking the realms’ beliefs about me.”

“But were you?” Yehua ventured out to ask what he had mulled over for quite some time.

“Was I what?”

“Were you ever more than friends with that woman?”

A quick constrict of his brother’s brows told Yehua he was overstepping the boundary. But surprisingly he was not too taken aback by this reaction. Perhaps the loss of everything so far, the disparate need for answers had made him bold.

“Why is this important?” asked Moyuan, not sounding offended but also giving Yehua no hope that he would hear a straight answer.

Yehua selected his next words with caution. “It isn’t. But I would be astonished if you were.” Because you are the opposite of what I understand that woman to stand for.

Moyuan seemed to have understood what the comment meant to convey, the look of patience returning to his face.

“I grew up with the Demon Queen and watched her make choices that led us to become enemies,” he said. “But she was one of us for a long time. I understand the person beneath the ruthlessness she displayed during the Demon War.”

That was not enough to justify how he had allowed Bai Qian to spend that many days so close to such potential danger. Yehua said without holding back. “The idea of my friends being in the same place as someone who caused so much death and destruction in the Demon War disturbs me greatly.”

And let us hope the King of Xunzhua never finds out that he has sat face-to-face with the person who scratched out his father’s eye.

“Yehua, the Demon Queen agreed to give up her Power Feather to give us a chance.”

“I appreciate that,” Yehua admitted. He wanted to point out that such unethically achieved powers never belonged to her in the first place, but thought the better of it. “I am merely expressing my opinion on how risky it is to have your guard down around someone as lethal and ambitious as her. Demons are full of tricks and they have the tendency to embrace forbidden magic instead of viewing it as what needs to be eliminated, like the rest of the realms. There is a reason why even Lord Donghua failed to make peace with them during his reign in the Nine Heavens. She might not want the Feather back now but there is no telling she isn’t planning something else.”

“I know I cannot make you change your mind about the Demon Queen,” said Moyuan patiently. “And I will not try to. But you have my word that she will not, in any way, interfere with our plan. She has much more to deal with at the moment.”

Yehua hesitated for a second, then nodded. His brother was putting too much faith in the Demon Queen’s character, that was apparent, but Yehua could trust that the God of War would always think for the safety of the eight realms first, he had demonstrated as much. Nothing could make him lose his control over the plan. And faith -- perhaps faith was not the same as blind trust.

There was some rattling noises in the front yard. It seemed Bai Qian was back from town; her voice was giving orders to the wood sprite, sounding suspiciously like she was going to cook something.

“Yehua,” his brother’s grim tone claimed his attention again. “Prejudice and fear to face inevitable changes are the reasons why your grandfather failed to unite the eight realms. Do not make the same mistake.”

“My grandfather…” Yehua’s fist clenched. That day, a sword plunging itself into his grandfather's chest. “My grandfather might have made mistakes. But he raised me. He believed… what he did was right, he wasn’t ruthless to me on purpose. He thought it was what I needed.”

“I beg your pardon,” said Moyuan gently.

Silence befell them. While he would give any explanation he could find to defend his grandfather, Yehua knew well the consequences of his choices. He had suffered because of those choices, suffered and believed they’d been made for his own good.

Love. Love was always the excuse. His grandfather had separated him from his mother, had deprived him of a family in the name of love. Just like how he himself had caused her endless pain, thinking that it was love, that it was right.

“Bai Qian told me of the gathering at Xunzhua,” said Moyuan. “You seemed to have handled it well. It was exactly what those leaders needed to hear to start questioning Luoji.”

“I did what I had to do,” Yehua replied.

“What about what you want to do?”

Want?

“Do you want to become the next Skylord?”

He looked at his brother with confusion, something -- a strange feeling surging inside him. Want? His life had always been about what he should do, not what he wanted. To be given a choice, to be asked about his interests and wishes - he almost had no idea how to respond.

“Does it make a difference if I want to or not?”

“Of course it does,” his brother slightly nodded. “You’ll find that most things are more easily accomplished if you care about them.”

Yes. Such a simple explanation to why Xunzhua was so well ruled and protected.

“I…” of course he wanted to. There had been nothing on his mind except building a better Celestial Court after he’d watched it crumple. But, as much as he didn’t want to admit it, he needed guidance, and understanding, and… help. Much help.

Before Yehua could make his concerns known, as if reading his mind, his brother continued. “I was one thousand years younger than you are now when war broke out between Celestials and five other clans across the realms. I led and won the final battle against an alliance of Ghosts, Mermen, and Demon Birds, each of whose armies larger than my own. Do you think you can best that, Yehua?”

Like a gust of wind to a spreading fire, those words he knew were meant to rid him of the doubts he’d harbored about himself did what they needed to.

He took a deep breath, chuckling. There were a million of things he wanted to discuss still - those devices, the message he had received from Jiayun, the Feather, how grateful he was to be told that his wishes mattered. But perhaps he should first acknowledge that beside the need to protect his people, he was also dying for a chance to prove to the world how different he was from his grandfather.

“Reclaiming the Nine Heavens from the most powerful immortal of all time,” Yehua said. “Yes, that sounds like a much harder task than simply leading a battle.”

“Good,” the God of War’s eyes gleamed. “It is a challenge then.”