Fanfiction: Moyuan and Bai Qian, Book 2 - Chapter 14, Part 7 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 14 - The Tide Turning

Part 7

written by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi
consulting by Bunny

“My King…” Nalan gasped and hurled toward them. The soldier’s face was filled with shock upon the state of Bai Qian. As quickly as he could, Nalan removed with magic the mud that caked on her skin.

Bai Qian shook her head, hoping to clear her vision a bit -- she was starting to see two of each person. It was not hard, though, for her to see that they all wore a look almost the same as Nalan.

“How did I do, Queen of Qingqiu?” The Spinner spoke. “Did the maze meet your expectations?”

She ignored the taunt. One day… one day, on the battlefield, she would beat him to a pulp.

From the corner of Bai Qian’s eyes, she saw Moyuan. He was… moving down the steps and approaching them. With growing terror, she turned a little more to get a full sight of him. His face was a deadly pale.

Shifu… what are you doing?

Did Luoji see what she was seeing? How much had he discovered during that chess game? How much had Moyuan given away? Questions boomed in her head with Moyuan’s every step. She didn’t have the answer to any of them, her knees trembled from both anxiety and fatigue.

As if in response to her fear, a sharp clang pierced into the silence and Pojing too whipped in Moyuan’s direction when he was a few steps away, metal claws protruding from his gauntlets in defense. Realizing that it was not an imminent threat, his glare subsided but he did not retract his weapon.

“Tell me, King of Xunzhua,” it was Sufeng. “Did your father teach you nothing about the consequences of losing your temper?”

Pojing turned toward the man with murderous slowness, the veins on his neck never more visible.

“No…” Bai Qian clasped his face and forced him to look back at her. “No.”

They were told to provoke us. They want a fight.

“Such a strong bond between them,” the Spinner sucked air through his teeth, as though he was eating a delicious dish. “I have lost track of how many times they have risked their lives for each other.”

“I advise you to step away, God of War,” Sufeng’s voice was laced with laughter this time. “You dare lay a hand on a Beast King’s mate, and you will learn exactly how vicious those claws can be.”

Another laughter raised -- seductive and dangerous -- it was the Fox Woman who had disguised as Jiayun the last time they’d been here.

“Are all Xunzhua’s men so unreserved with their feelings? Perhaps I should find one for myself.”

A chill colder than the Arctic ice shot forth from Moyuan’s eyes. The laughing and chattering ceased almost immediately. However reckless those people were, perhaps they were still aware of the danger his power posed, that Luoji might just be one second too late to save them if Moyuan decided to teach them a lesson.

Looking back at Bai Qian, he continued calmly. “The infection has to be treated.”

He eyed her right arm and reached out as though he had forgotten what they were supposed to be to each other. Their eyes met for a brief moment and even though the pain was almost blinding her, she saw it -- a ripple on his flawless mask.

“Not by you --” Bai Qian tried to cover the wound that was now only too visible with what was left of her torn sleeve, pulled herself toward Pojing and spat out the words, “Demon Lover.”

“Now, now,” Luoji himself took a step away from the chess board and toward them. “Not even a word of gratitude to your mentor who has helped you so much even though his heart is elsewhere?”

Being closer to Pojing than she had ever been before, Bai Qian thought she could feel his patience draining quickly. For a second she couldn’t even tell if it was her fever or his anger that was burning her skin.

“We’re leaving,” he said to Nalan.

“Not yet.” Luoji’s command echoed. The guests stilled.

“You are done playing your game,” Pojing said through his teeth. “We would like to leave.”

Bai Qian squeezed his hand and shook her head, cueing him to comply. The pain in her arm was overwhelming, consuming the last bit of her strength, but she knew they only had one choice -- comply.

From the bottom of the stairs, Luoji swept closer, holding Pojing’s glare with a faint yet malicious smile.

No… Not Pojing too. Bai Qian flung herself in front of him, not knowing what she could do if the dark claws struck his mind like they had done to hers recently. But if she must take her friend’s place at the mercy of Luoji today, she would. Not another drop of his blood should be shed because of her mistake. She had been stupid enough to sit down and play a game with the Dark Immortal, stupid enough to be herself in front of him... The torture directed at Moyuan was enough, not Pojing too.

If she had to beg, she would.

What did Luoji still want?

“You…” her voice shook. “You said you’d let me go once I got out of the maze. Well -- I’m not in there anymore.”

Luoij eyed the tears that were about to spill down her cheeks and said with infuriating slowness. “Of course you can go. A bargain is a bargain, am I right, Moyuan?”

“No need to ask me,” replied Moyuan forcefully. “The eight realms are your witnesses.”

He wants to observe the God of War -- Bai Qian answered her own question -- yes, the longer she stood here, the longer Moyuan would have to maintain his act. And deciphering Moyuan was Luoji’s own banquet, an activity he would make sure lasted as long as possible.

Luoji’s eyes swept across the crowd. There was no need for him to state the purpose of this gathering anymore. Even the ancient Fox Clan was no match for the Dark Immortal, what chance did any of them stand? -- the message had been absorbed by every mind present.

Bai Qian began to panic. She knew what would happen when venom travelled too far, when open wounds were left untreated. Calmness, reason -- they were starting to leave her as the throbbing pain sent brutal waves up her arm, beyond her right shoulder. Unable to contain herself, she looked toward Moyuan, his figure flickering before her now impaired vision.

Then, Luoji’s face was suddenly the only thing she could see, his voice like a poisonous caress of the dark.

“Leave. I hope this day will always occupy an honored place in your memory, Queen of Qingqiu, although you have done nothing that another helpless mortal had not.”

Bai Qian felt herself being lifted from the ground just as her eyes drooped. They were moving away from the talking and the tension of Luoji’s presence. There was no strength in her to protest against being carried away or to worry about what the eight realms saw anymore.


***


They soared through clouds, mountains, and deserts. When Bai Qian was finally put down on a soft surface, the pain could not get any worse. She was on the verge of screaming out loud everytime the wound was touched.

“Venomous spider,” she heard a familiar voice say.

“Do something about it, Physician, quickly!” It was Nalan.

More people came rushing into the room, more voices raised in panic, but they all made no sense to Bai Qian.

Shifu.

“Shifu…” the word uncontrollably flowed from her lips.

“What?” Pojing laid his hand heavily on her forehead. But she didn’t protest, the contact was like an anchor that told her she was not dead.

“High God Moyuan…” she said, her muddled mind couldn’t think of much else. “He’s in danger.”

“We’re all in danger, Queen of Qingqiu.”

“No… you don’t understand… The chess game --”

“I understand.”

“No!” she clung on to his arm and hoisted herself upward.

“Lie down, please --”

“If he knows… it’ll all be in vain.” Tears streamed down her face. “Zheyan… and Jie-jie, they’ll all have died for nothing. Pojing, you have to tell him! Tell High God Moyuan… He has to be careful…”

“It’s the poison,” spoke the physician. “It is making her confused.”

“I’m not confused!”

Pojing held her down by the shoulders. “High God Moyuan is being careful, I promise --”

“Not enough -- it wasn’t enough --”

A strike on the back of her neck.

The room blackened and Bai Qian lost that last bit of her consciousness.


***


Food.

The boy’s stomach growled. He forced his eyes open and lifted his head from the soft pillow even though he wanted nothing more than to bury himself in the warm sheets and sleep for days.

But his hunger was more demanding.

The food smelled strange – he breathed in deeply, then blinked and blinked. Everything looked strange. The quilt he wrapped himself in was ragged, the bed creaked, and there were at least five big holes on the ceiling just right above his head. This room… no, hut, it was a hut with only one door that led outside. Some broken toys lay on the ground. Tools and dishes filled a slanted wooden shelf that was nailed to the wall, a big bow and some arrows stood in a corner.

But it was not the poor state of things that startled him, but the air. He knew he had travelled far, but this place felt like another world altogether.

A freckled face suddenly stuck out from behind the door and two huge eyes blinked at him.

“Father, father! He’s awake!” whoever it was ran away.
Be quiet, please. I’m trying to think.

“Father!” another boy’s voice joined in. “Sister said the boy is awake!”

He pushed himself up, but blood rushed to his head and his body dropped back down in the most miserable way. The smell of food was coming closer, and the next minute, three people barged into the room and right away they began to stare at him as if he was some animal in a cage. But he wasn’t scared – whoever they were, they couldn’t be worse than those beautiful faces in the Nine Heavens. And… they had a pot of food, so they certainly would not eat him for dinner.

The man that was probably ‘Father’ put the steaming pot he was holding on the table and folded his arms. This man was taller than anyone he had seen in the Celestial Palace. As a matter of fact, all three of them looked different from the people he was used to.

The little girl with freckles pointed. “What bit your arms? Were you being chased by really mean dogs?”

“What happened to you, boy?” croaked her father. “We found you in the forest at the curb of this village.”

Celestial Dogs, forests of thorns and hungry wolves, filthy swamps, rotten fruits for meals, nights and days barefoot under endless storms – but he wasn’t going to tell these strangers any of those things.

“Do you want to eat dinner with us?” The girl grinned at him and pulled herself up onto a wooden chair.

“Shush,” her brother put a finger to his lips.

“What!” she pouted.

“You are not from around here,” the man went on as his children began to divide the stew into bowls. The smell was foreign, but delicious.

“I… Where am I?”

“Where? The Demon Realm, of course.”

Demon Realm – his stomach felt sick with fear. Had he really arrived at the realm of secret and untamed magic as he’d wanted? Had he really gotten that far from home?

No. That place, with the clouds and rainbows and everlasting light, it had never been home. 


Chapter 14, Part 8