Fanfiction: Moyuan and Bai Qian, Book 2 - Chapter 14, Part 3 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 14 - The Tide Turning

Part 3


written by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi
consulting by Bunny

The four hundreds years old boy knelt in front of his mother’s sickbed, not a single tear on his face.

The physician had stopped coming to heal her. Everytime a maid walked in this room to bring her food, bring him food, they threw her pitiful looks. He knew some of them came here to feast on his and his mother’s helplessness, to report back to whomever they served that the mortal woman was dying, that the Nine Heavens would soon be rid of an unworthy soul.


Why had they brought her here to begin with? The boy stared at his mother’s lifeless face. She woke up once in a while to speak to him, telling him not to be afraid.

But he wasn’t afraid. He was furious.

Father -- that man…

“Yuan’er,” Nanny put a hand on the boy’s shoulders. “Don’t you like your food? Why haven’t you eaten anything?”

“Do they not heal my mother because they want her to die?”

“Yuan’er,” the old maid sat down next to him. “There is no cure for your mother’s sickness. She is simply too weak to recover.”

“Who made her weak?” his voice was as cold as a stranger.

“Listen to me, Yuan’er, you mustn’t cause trouble if you want them to leave you and your mother alone. Your Father, he can’t protect you all the time…”

“He never protects us.”

“Your Father has his difficulties. But you, you must remember what I always say. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Be obedient and stay out of their way.”

“We’ve been obedient. I’ve been obedient, but they won’t leave us alone. They want to see me resist, they want to see me fight back so they can punish me.”

“Stay out of their way, my boy,” the old maid said again. “That is the only thing you can do.”

The only thing? He didn’t want to believe that.

The boy stared into his nanny’s kind eyes. “I’ll find a way to heal her, if they won’t.”


***

Bai Qian woke up to a throbbing headache. She grunted and forced her eyes open. The ceiling’s architecture and the light told her she was lying in one of the Nine Heavens’ bedrooms.

“Queen of Qingqiu.”

She jolted up and glared at the person who appeared at her bed’s foot, letting them know she was ready to kill anyone who came near. But it was only the old Medicine King she had met several times before. Behind him were a few Celestial maids.

“What happened to me?” she asked curtly.

The old man took on a gentle tone. “You ingested some poisonous berries. Please do not worry, I have removed the toxin from your body. Although you will need a proper rest to recover.”

Berries?


Bai Qian began to recall the events before she’d blacked out one by one -- the stupid chess game, those questions, the Dark Immortal’s victorious smile.

She needed to see Moyuan. Now.

“Here is your medicine, Queen of Qingqiu,” the Medicine King gestured for one of the maids to come forward and present Bai Qian with a bowl of some steaming brown liquid.

But Bai Qian ignored them. “Who’s been in this room? What’s been done to me?”

“Nothing, High Goddess,” said the man. And he turned to the maid. “Give the Queen of Qingqiu her medicine.”

Bai Qian drew in a long breath, eyeing that bowl, head hurting terribly. She counted the people who were in the room with her -- one man, three maids.

She needed a maid pendant from one of them.

“Do you think I’m going to drink something concocted by you -- the people who betrayed the Crown Prince?” She sprang from her bed before they could react, snatched up the bowl and smashed it against the ground. The brown liquid splashed everywhere as its container shattered.

“High Goddess…” the old man knelt down, pleading. “Please…”

“Get out, all of you! Get out of my sight!”

The three maids whimpered, tears shooting out of their eyes and they too sank to their knees. Blood rushed to Bai Qian’s head, blackening her vision for a few seconds -- she was still under the effect of the poison, there was no doubt about that.

“High Goddess,” the Medicine King bowed again. “Please… we didn’t betray the Crown Prince. We didn’t know any of this was going to happen… but you have to take your medicine, please… otherwise, he will kill all of us… You!” he turned to the trembling maids. “Get another bowl...”

“Get out of here!” Bai Qian shouted again.

“Please, rest, High Goddess…” the Medicine King got on his feet, inching away from Bai Qian, as though afraid she was going to chew him alive.

The rest of the maids followed him as he too quickly left, head shaking in disbelief.

Just as Bai Qian had thought, a few minutes after she’d been left alone, the familiar chirping sounded somewhere in the room. The next second, the little sprite zoomed toward her from behind a candle holder with a stem full of tiny purple berries in its arms, alive and jumpy as ever.

You,” Bai Qian had to sit down when another round of drowsiness hit her. “You put poisonous berries into the tea?”

It nodded, looking extremely proud of itself.

“Of course, I forgot you were the berry expert,” Bai Qian shook her head. “But why?”

Instead of answering, the creature shoved the fruits at her.

“What’s this?”

“Chirp.” Its expression became impatient.

“Is it an antidote? Is it going to make me feel better?”

It nodded again.

“Why did you meddle with the tea in the first place?” Bai Qian stressed, snatching the fruits. She knew the little creature couldn’t have wanted to kill her, but he might as well have -- knocking her unconscious when they were in Luoji’s hands.

The sprite made a motion with its twig-like arm.

“What?” Bai Qian squinted.

It grunted and flew toward the desk in the corner. Bai Qian ran after it in confusion. Every bedroom in the Nine Heavens was equipped with a desk like this and some papers and ink. At the moment, though, the inkstone was dry.

“What are you doing?”

The creature snatched up a piece of paper and shoved it at her face.

“Oh, you want to write something,” she pondered. “Well, we don’t have time to grind the ink now --”

Bai Qian pulled out of her sleeve the bag she had enchanted to carry all the things she never wanted to part with -- the blue feathers, Zheyan’s healing potions…

“Here,” she drew out a piece of charcoal and handed it to the sprite.

Immediately, the creature started to scribble, constantly grunting and blowing raspberries.

Bai Qian’s forehead wrinkled when the sprite finally indicated that the sketch on the paper was apparently finished and looked at her as if it expected her to understand the message immediately.

“I don’t get it…” she picked up the paper and squinted. It was a drawing of what looked like a dog standing in front of a mountain.

The sprite flicked at the dog and made all kinds of vulgar hand motions. Then, with the charcoal, it added some fangs, highlighted the whiskers Bai Qian hadn’t seen the first time, and made a vertical stroke on the animal’s left eye.

“Oh… tiger,” It dawned on Bai Qian. “Luoji?”

She knew she had guessed right when the sprite let out a series of excited chirping. It twirled and bobbed, seemingly telling her to concentrate, pointing at the badly illustrated mountain.

“Luoji… Luoji grew up in the mountains? No… Oh, the tiger has left the mountains!” She gasped and reduced her voice to a whisper. “Luoji’s not here?”

The sprite little head’s bobbed.

“How do you know this? Nevermind, don’t draw anymore, let me guess -- you saw him leave the Nine Heavens’ shield?”

It nodded again.

Hope flooded Bai Qian -- when she acquired a pendant from one of those maids, she could escape as soon as today. It could be night already, she wouldn’t know with the glaring sun that never set in this place.

“When did he leave? One incense’s time ago? Two?”

It held up one finger, and then two.

“About one to two? All right… wait,” she held up a hand. “This doesn’t explain why you put poisonous berries into my tea!”

The sprite looked seriously frustrated this time, perhaps from not knowing how to answer the questions in its Sprite language or with its art -- everything that came out of its mouth sounded either like a bird’s song or the ringing of a little bell.

“All right, let me guess…” Bai Qian stopped it from making more angry noises.

What would be going on in a wood sprite’s head at that time?

“You were trying to weaken Luoji so I could escape?” she began.

The creature nodded vigorously, eyes huge with excitement.

“Oh gods, Little Sprite!” Bai Qian grunted. “Luoji draws power from the universe, he wasn’t going to be affected by some berry poison. Also, that tea was made for me too!”

With its little foot, the sprite kicked her on the forehead and furious speech fired from its mouth. Then, it pointed to her head and made a motion that Bai Qian took to mean ‘you are crazy to drink it’.

“What?” she protested. “Me? Crazy? Luoji wouldn’t resort to poisoning, I knew I was right. Also, I thought I needed to play the game right to stay alive, and that meant keeping him intrigued… Oh, you wouldn’t understand…”

Bai Qian gave up explaining. Nevertheless, this sprite’s poorly executed plan had helped her. None of the guards outside would expect her to be well enough to fight at the moment.

“Are you sure about this?” She held the purple berries up.

The sprite nodded with indefinite confidence on its face.

“Of course you are,” she shook her head but ate one anyway.

There were some exchanges in the front yard, Bai Qian hid the berries and threw herself onto the bed immediately, back facing the door. Her suspicions of the sprite slowly vanished as she felt that her healing power was, in fact, speeding up.

“High Goddess,” a girl’s voice squeaked nervously. It was one of the maids earlier. “Your medicine is here.”

“Put it there,” she snarled in response, shoving a few more berries in her mouth. Where did that sprite find all these fruits?

“The… the Medicine King said you’d have to drink it as soon as possible.”

Bai Qian heard her footsteps hurrying away.

The purple berries worked like a fast healing spell. Bai Qian quietly got up, strength flowing to her arms and legs. Without thinking twice, she strode forward, flicked her fan open and struck.

The maid’s body slumped and Bai Qian was just in time to catch her before she hit the ground. Quickly she snatched the bronze pendant from the maid’s belt then took a long look at her face, her body stature.

“Sorry,” Bai Qian said. Sensing the sprite fluttering near, she rose on her feet and said to it, “we have minutes.”

With a transformation spell, she became the maid. The sprite slammed itself into her hairpin and stayed motionless from that point on. Her head started to pound again and her lungs, her guts felt like they were being twisted and pulled apart.

The guards suspected nothing as she strode through the gate, trying her best to fold her arms like the Celestial maids always did for some reason. And the second she turned a corner, Bai Qian started running.

She knew she had less than a few minutes to get out of this corridor before this spell completely exhausted her.

It felt like hours by the time she reached an area that was safe enough for her to shed the disguise. Breathing like she had run ten times around this palace, Bai Qian slumped against a wall and clutched her chest. The nearest gate shouldn’t be far…

“Who’s there?”

It was no more than a soft whisper that sounded behind her back, but Bai wheeled around and lunged toward the owner of that voice in an attack immediately. She had to silence him before he could alert his fellow guards. A brutal kick in the stomach made the man’s body bend in pain and her foot met with his face before she realized that it was someone she knew.

“Tianshu?”

Bai Qian retracted her sword hand, gawking.

The man took a step back, blood was coming out of his nose but his face lit up in relief.

“Queen… Queen of Qingqiu.”

A small frightened sound interrupted them and only now did Bai Qian see that there were two more people behind the Celestial General.

“Lady Lexu,” she addressed the woman, then looked to the man next to her. “Prince Yangcuo.”

 Chapter 14, Part 4