Fanfiction: Moyuan and Bai Qian, Book 2 - Chapter 16, Part 2 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)


Chapter 16 - Gold and Fire

Part 2

written by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi
consulting by Bunny


If it weren’t for those travellers who had been willing to let him cloud-jump along, he would have been stuck in the Demon Realm and taken another month to get back to the Celestial territories.

The boy gnawed on the bit of bread those immortals had left behind from last night’s dinner. He didn’t want to waste any more time, but he needed the food. When the last piece of the hardened crust was in his stomach, he stood up and fumbled around in his bag. He had been checking to see if the little gold piece was still there once every three minutes, had not dared to sleep a wink last night and had kept a dull knife in his reach the whole time, afraid one of those travellers would attack him and steal everything he had. But they had been kind.

When he was sure the gold was safe and sound at the bottom of his bag, the boy looked around for a bit. The immortals had told him they were at the foot of a sacred mountain -- that must be why the air felt so different -- and where he wanted to go would take some more days of walking.

He was full and ready to make that journey. What was bothering him now was not the distance, but the item that he’d found.

They will try to take it from me, he swallowed and brushed his palm across his face. Especially that Lady, she did not want his mother to live. They would take it from him before the healing magic could touch his mother.

But what else could he do? He was not a physician or had magic strong enough to heal Mother on his own. Going over his choices again and again, he decided finally that there was only one thing to do…

Father.

His Celestial father wanted to protect them. And even if he couldn’t most of the time, he wanted to -- that was what mattered.

The boy sank to the ground. With the little magic he had learnt from hiding in bushes and watching the princes and princesses study, he dug a deep hole. Then, wrapping his dirty bag around the little gold piece, he cast a protective enchantment on it, tossed it down the hole and filled it again.

He took a long look around, learning the trees, the rocks, and the river by heart. W
hen Father comes here with me, he rubbed his hands together to get rid of the dust and soil, we will figure out what to do with the item.

***

“Well,” Luoji sat back on the throne, his patience slipping as the Head Scholar of the Nine Heavens bowed. “It has taken you five days. What did you find?”

The man bowed again, as though a respectful facade could shield him from harm, and held the hairpin to the front with both hands. “This item was created with the most advanced magic in the eight realms, at least I reckon so. I have never seen craftsmanship so exquisite.”

Sufeng spoke, perhaps before thinking, “What? Is that the truth? If you lie, old man --”

“I do not,” the old Celestial trembled. “I and the best Celestials scholars have analyzed the item multiple times. Our tests came to the same conclusion.”

“Advanced magic?” Luoji repeated.

“Yes. Advanced magic that manipulated the particles of the raw material and produced the appearance and essence of an ancient artefact. The enchantments on the surface — which… I assume have been broken down by you, My Lord — create the illusion of age for the item. I do not believe we in the Nine Heavens have the ability or the equipment to repeat the process, but I have understood the mechanism --”

The rest of the explanation did not hold much interest to Luoji. He held out a hand. The hairpin flew into his grip, his gaze settling on the jade for a long second.

“What about the inside?” he asked.

“It holds no unique magic, My Lord, only the illusion of such.”

“Hmm,” he hesitated, then snapped his fist close.

No explosion, no reaction from the item except the crumpling and shattering of the jade and wood - just like any ordinary material would under his immense force.

A tide of fervor swept through him like lightning as he watched the broken pieces shower the marble ground.

“Well done, Bai Qian,” he whispered. “Well done.”

If only her skull was within his reach, he would crush it into pieces too.

Which moment exactly during that encounter on the sky island had he miscalculated? When she had mentioned the name he’d used to answer to? Or had he known then the little game she and Moyuan had been playing, yet had wanted to see more, had gotten carried away and let the sentiment overwhelm his judgement?

“Contact the Void,” he said. “Have our troops ready.”

There was a minute of absolute silence, then Sufeng spoke. “My Lord?”

All the time he had wasted with the false item, the real one had been subjected to destructive spells within Xunzhua. Time. There was no time to lose. Destroying this treacherous world for good was no matter, but the item must be in his hands.

“Xunzhua has been safekeeping something for us,” he responded to Sufeng with a slow smile. “It is time we claimed it back.”

Thrill overflowed on his lieutenant’s face as he left the Dragon Hall.

For the sake of this world you protect, Moyuan, he vowed. The item had better be intact.

***

“There you are, you brat!” A Celestial soldier at the gate grabbed the boy’s collar. “Where have you been? Do you know how much trouble you have caused us!”

“Where’s my father?” he begged.

“Tell us where you’ve been!”

“Please… let me see my father fist, I have to talk to him, it’s important… I will tell you where I’ve been later. Please…”

“Listen to me, you little --”

“Just let him go to the prince,” another guard said. “He would want to see his mother for the last time.”

It won’t be the last time. The boy felt hope rising in him. You don’t know anything.

“Fine,” the man let him go and shoved him forward. “I’ll take you to the prince. You should have been here boy. The prince looked for you for days, and that mortal woman wanted to see you.”

The world suddenly went quiet and the boy wondered if he had heard wrong.

“Wan-wanted?”

“Died last night, it seems. The prince refused to let her go but --”

“What do you mean!” the boy shouted, his throat dry. “It couldn’t be… Where is she? Where is she now!”

“Don’t raise your voice to me, you half-blood!”

“Where’s my father?” he grabbed the man’s robe and yelled louder. “And where’s my mother! I need to see them now!”

It can’t be. No…

“At Zhuxian Terrace, of course,” the man shoved him away and took hold of his arm. “Where do you think we dispose of those who do not belong in the Heavens? Their bodies have to return to the dust and become a part of --”

No.

“Let me go!”

“Hey --” the man looped his arm around his chest to hold him back.

“Don’t hurt him!” the other guard stepped in. “He’s still a prince’s son. Do you want to be chucked in the Arctic Prison?”

The brutal arms let him go right away; and not looking back, he bolted.

Zhuxian Terrace.

Died.

He ran and ran.

No.

She was not dead, he knew it. She had said she would always be there. She could not leave him too. He raced across the courtyard, building after building, up the stairs and towards the darkest place in the Nine Heavens. Grey clouds covered the sky and the wind howled.

There, he saw them. A figure of a man holding another body, standing at the edge of the cliff.

“FATHER!”

But the man was too far away to hear anything.

“Father...”

Suddenly he tripped.

“What do we have here?”

The boy turned around. The Lady who had hit his mother, hit both of them with a whip. There was never a day that she left them alone. The scar on his face tingled as she walked closer. When he got up, ready to run, something bound him -- a spell, an invisible rope.

“No…” tears shot out from his eyes. “No, let me go, please… I have to tell Father...”

“Tell him what?” she smiled. “Why don’t you be a good boy and let him have a few last moments with her before he lets her go.”

“He can’t let her go!” the boy screamed. “She’s not dead… I know how to save her!”

“The physician said she drew her last breath last night, boy. Her illness was incurable and her mortal body was too weak to recover.”

Father, no… He looked to the distance. The man was moving closer to the edge.

“FATHER!”

“Silence…”

“FATHERRR!”

“Shhh,” the Lady flicked her hand and grabbed his jaw with her ringed fingers, her nails digging into his skin. “It seems to me that you have gone quite mad. Very well then, go and bid your mother farewell, I do not want to be responsible for such a wild child.”

Whatever had been binding him all this time disappeared and he lunged forward.

“Fa --”

But in the distance, the man’s arms tipped. The body he was holding fell into the darkness. The boy gasped, his eyes and mouth wide as he watched his father kneel down.

No.

He screamed from the top of his lungs, so loud that his throat felt like tearing, and collapsed.

Chapter 16, Part 3