Fanfiction: Moyuan and Bai Qian, Book 2 - Chapter 15, Part 5 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)



Chapter 15 - Reflection

Part 5

writtten by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi
consulting by Bunny

Fuze sat back in his cushion, gulping down his wine with enthusiasm, and flashed a wolfish grin in Bai Qian and Yanzhi’s direction.

In her seat, Bai Qian remained observing the faces of the Demon courtiers for a few minutes, the guards, the maids, the two women serving Fuze by his seat, the dancers in the center of the room. No one cared. They sat on luxurious silk cushions, watched the entertainment, feasted on roasted wild boars, swayed with the music, and laughed at each other’s jokes. No one looked in the least affected by everything Bai Qian had just laid out about the war.

“The thing is, Queen of Qingqiu,” spoke the Demon Lord, holding out his goblet to be refilled. “Whether Luoji is in power or not, our lives remain unaffected by affairs outside of the Demon Realm.”

Exchanging a look with Yanzhi, Bai Qian jerked her chin toward him. “And how long do you think you can remain the same once Luoji decides he wants total submission from you and your people?”

“No Celestial has ever penetrated our realm and lived to tell the tale.”

“Luoji is no ordinary Celestial,” Yanzhi said.

“And he is our ally now, isn’t he,” Fuze leaned to one side and the woman on his right fed him some grapes. “Enough discussion. My final answer to you is: I will not spare a single Demon soldier for your cause.”

Swallowing down her anger, Bai Qian asked. “Luoji? An ally? Are you feigning ignorance, Demon Lord, or do you really believe it’s possible to maintain an alliance with a Dark Immortal whose powers you can’t fathom?”

“Say what you will, Queen of Xunzhua --”

“Queen of Qingqiu.”

Fuze rolled his eyes and signaled for more wine. “Say what you will, but I know the new Skylord to be one who keeps his word. He honored his end of the deal after the battle of the Crystal Palace and delivered to us the promised wealth. There is also a seat in the Celestial Court waiting for me if I care to claim it. Can the fallen prince say the same about the Nine Heavens that was under his reign?”

Bai Qian opened her mouth but quickly realized that she had no argument. Yehua is different? Yehua was trying to make changes before the fall? Those were only words, she had no proof.

But she couldn’t give up, she hadn’t come all this way, hadn’t sat here and drunk this brain-burning wine just to have her negotiation be turned down point blank. But before another word could come out of her, Fuze raised his voice.

“Guards,” he wrapped his arms around both of the women. “Escort the Queen of Qingqiu and the Ghost Princess back to the border.”

It was a dismissal -- he would hear no more negotiation. Anger rose to Bai Qian’s throat, how could there exist such unreasonable and selfish people?

Knowing that there was nothing more they could do, she and Yanzhi stood up and turned around without any comment about how Fuze and the woman on his right were starting to kiss as if they wanted to eat each other’s faces off. They were short of stripping one another naked in front of the court.

Maybe she was wrong, Bai Qian told herself, maybe such a scandalous man, born and raised in such a realm with no rules or honor, should not have been approached in the first place. It was true, they couldn’t care less about the rest of the world, wouldn’t think for the far future as long as their bellies were full. It was hard to believe that the elegant Demon Queen had been associated with the likes of this man. Maybe honor had existed here, but it had surely died and been buried much too long ago to be remembered.

“You foreigners always come into our realm to either practice magic that is forbidden in your own realm or hope to strike good bargains,” Fuze’s voice was suddenly loud and fierce.

Bai Qian and Yanzhi turned back. He had detached himself from that woman and was standing straight. The bulk of his fur cloak made him look like a bear.

“Very well, I will make you a bargain.”

Bai Qian listened with her breath held.

“On the day Luoji launches his war on you, I will watch from afar with pleasure. But,” he held up a hand. “If the fallen prince can earn the eight realms’ allegiance and let me see them stand behind him, then perhaps he is not as incompetent as his grandfather. Perhaps then I will send some help your way.”


***


“Well,” Bai Qian shuddered, glad to finally be out of the Demon Realm. “It’s safe to say that we failed.”

They were standing by Ruoshui river. The remnants of the last battle still echoed in the wind, rumbled beneath the very ground they stood. But soon, very soon, there would be a war that made Qingcang’s wrath look like child's play.

“If we could do what he asks,” Yanzhi rubbed her forehead. “Why would we even need him?”

“That swine makes Zhongyin look like a High Scholar,” Bai Qian kicked a pebble. It flew and tore a line into the water surface.

“At least we had some luck at the Arctic Prison.”

Bai Qian nodded in agreement, closing her eyes for a second to clear her mind. They had met with Xinglang, the Mer guard of the Arctic Prison, before the trip to the Demon Realm, had learned more about the prisoners’ sentiments towards Luoji.

“I have my own pigeon,” Xinglang had said. “A strong bird trained to survive in everlasting ice. He will deliver what I can gather to you.”

It wasn’t a definite answer, Bai Qian admitted, it wasn’t a promise to deliver help. But at least they had received a warmer welcome there than in Fuze’s manor. At least Xinglang had listened.

“Has anyone else from the gathering at Xunzhua given their response?” Yanzhi asked.

“Not that many,” Bai Qian said quietly. “From their perspective, we’re on the losing side. We can’t blame them for wanting to protect what they have.”

“If we lose this war, there might not be anything left to protect.”

Bai Qian sighed. “They don’t believe that yet. Whose door have you knocked on?”

“A small Bird Clan, neighbor to mine. Tree spirits of the Ghost forest. You are right, they hesitate to choose a side.”

They kept discussing, sighing, rolling their eyes, and feeling hopeless for a long while. Until both of them admitted that there was nothing else they could do except reaching out to more tribes, smaller kingdoms they had not paid attention to before. Afterwards, Yanzhi cloud-jumped away, back to her realm.

Alone by the riverbank, Bai Qian once again let out a deep breath.

The battle had not yet begun yet she already felt like she had lost. Faith — perhaps she should have faith in her friends, in Moyuan, in what they could do and how this ghastly situation could change in the next few days. But she could not gather a thread of faith or hope in herself at this moment, she only saw facts and numbers -- the number of Luoji’s soldiers and Beasts, the number of men on their own side. Counting those who had agreed to lend a hand, they were still outnumbered at least twenty to one. Lands would be trampled on. People would die, even if the devices were all destroyed, many of them would have to lay down their lives. How? How could she prevent that from happening?

The one mission she had thought could give them hope, she had failed. But what right had she to be angry at Fuze when her own tribe had lived the same way? She’d been sheltered and coddled by her brothers, proud of her family’s powerful magic and unaware of what others had to do to achieve what, to her, was alway given. What right had she to criticize Fuze for not wanting to send his men to inevitable death to help those with no relation to him?

Bai Qian felt lost

Utterly lost.

Lost.

Something snapped in the back of her head.

Her hands trembled a little and right away she drew out the little bag she’d been carrying since the last time she’d been to the Peach Blossom Garden, restored its right size and started fumbling through the items inside. Her heart drummed in her chest -- books, blue feathers, Nine Senior’s pendant, the Demon Queen’s map, vials...

Please be there, she searched and searched. She had shoved many things in here and taken them out a lot of times, it might have been dropped somewhere. But it wasn’t lost, it was there.

The little red ribbon. Flattened at the bottom due to the weight of her books.

Bai Qian pulled it out and held it close to her face, lifting her head at the night sky. The moon was full.

No one ever enters that place of mystery and everlasting peace, she recited what she had learnt, what every immortal in the eight realms knew. Unless…

She looked back at the thread -- with an invitation.

Her heart sped as she let the little ribbon rest in the middle of her palm. The Moon God had predicted this war, he had known there would come a day when the eight realms lost their hope. And this thread, it was a chance.

“Show me —”

There are no directions, Bai Qian understood now, no single right way. The moon was everywhere.

“Show me the way.”

A soft glow formed in the middle of the ribbon, rippled and began to spread until the entire piece of fabric was as bright as a tiny fire in her hand. It jerked to one side, then to the other, and finally brought itself upright in midair.

The power radiating from the thread spread and spread, encompassing Bai Qian with its warmth. Then, just when it started to look as if she herself was glowing like a flame amidst Ruoshui River’s darkness, the thread shot upward, hauling her along with a force like cloud-jumping.

Up and up she went, the moon above growing larger with every second.

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[*] Moon God (or Yuelao): traditionally the God of Love and Marriage. In this story, he is simply known as the God of the Moon.

For more about the red ribbon, visit chapter 3 part 2 / part 3