Fanfiction: Moyuan and Bai Qian, Book 2 - Chapter 15, Part 6 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 15 - Reflection

Part 6

written by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi
consulting by Bunny

As soon as Bai Qian landed, the red ribbon detached itself from her and started bouncing away, like a rabbit after a carrot, disappearing too fast for her to follow.

It was still night, Bai Qian could tell by the glittering constellations that stretched across the boundless darkness above her head. But where she stood was filled with light.

In the distance was the vague outline of a tall tower surrounded by multiple walls stretching far and wide. She wanted to run ahead and look for the God of the Moon right away, but the otherworldly peaceful air seemed to be slowly seeping into her with every breath she took, entreating her to slow down.

Succumbing to curiosity, Bai Qian eagerly took in the simple view around, looking for the source of light. But the island seemed to glow on its own. Soft clouds floated around her, cool and pure. What did they taste like? She wondered for a second and held out her hand to touch them.

“Chirp!”

Bai Qian looked down and saw the little sprite hovering above the rocks and pebbles on the ground. They resembled white jade -- she noticed -- fragile-looking but clearly unbreakable.

“Beautiful…” she stooped down and picked one up, admiring it from every angle.

When Bai Qian looked at the sprite again, however, she saw that the little creature had taken off its spiky hat and was trying to fit as many of the jade-like pebbles into it as possible.

What are you doing?” she whispered, not sure whether to laugh or scold it. “They’re not ours!”

But it turned out she didn’t need to worry about the sprite’s behavior at all. The stone in her own hand suddenly turned into silver vapor, then reappeared where she had first found it.

“Chirp,” the sprite looked at its hat. It was empty now, the pebbles were gone and back to where they belonged. “Chirp!”

Bai Qian stood up and glanced around, wondering whether any guardians were standing around waiting to catch them. But there was no one here but her and the sprite.

“Behave,” she warned the creature, who was so disappointed that it slouched and didn’t even bother to argue as she walked on. “Where do you think this is? Trying to take those, really…”

Soon, Bai Qian reached a stone bridge, underneath which water ran as smoothly and slowly as the drifting clouds. It was so quiet and undisturbed that she was afraid to breathe as she was nearing the edge of the bridge.

She looked down, her reflection clear against the water surface. But behind her, Bai Qian inched closer to the edge in curiosity, there were… other things. Moving images — some blurrier than others.

Too used to enchanted mirrors inside which not only oneself appeared and dark objects that fooled the eyes, Bai Qian did not flinch. Furthermore, she didn’t believe anything on this sacred land could be sinister.

Gazing at the water, she saw flashes of Qingqiu, of Kunlun; a black dragon soaring in the sky; swords and shields clashing amidst fire; a blazing golden light engulfing something that emitted dark smoke; Moyuan standing in what looked like a Xunzhua study, and right opposite of him -- herself; a young boy with amber eyes that stood out like jewels on his face, laughing and running across a green meadow; an unoccupied Dragon Throne; the Peach Blossom Garden blooming in glorious sunlight.

Fading in and out, the peculiar images made little sense to Bai Qian. Some made her frown, some put a smile on her face, but they were all too quick to vanish for her to understand. It was only when Bai Qian heard the old man’s voice did she know he was now also standing on the bridge.

“Have you seen anything you like yet?”

The sprite gave a small shriek and slammed itself into her hairpin. Bai Qian’s head whipped in the voice’s direction. The mysterious man in a plain robe she had met only twice -- his old face was as unchanged as the moon itself, his silver beard shone almost greater than the everlasting light that encompassed this place.

“God of the Moon,” she collapsed her hands together in a bow.

His head slightly moved up and down and Bai Qian stood up straight again. Unable to contain her curiosity, she pointed at the river.

“Can you see what I see, Yue-lao?”

He glanced at the water. “Of course.”

“What are they, Sir? The images.”

“Possibilities,” he said. “Alternatives.”

“You mean,” she frowned. “The future?”

“Futures,” he corrected her. “But worry not, I do not believe you have seen anything that you can make sense of yet.”

Bai Qian was unable to suppress an amused smile. She thought for a while and said. “Only one who is charged with overseeing the future can understand what they see, am I right?”

“Yes,” he nodded, smiling. “You are.”

She had heard legends, stories about what was kept on this mysterious sky island and why its Master stayed away from the rest of the world, but she had never been able to fully imagine the weight of the responsibility he bore. Even now, the concept seemed distant to her.

“Are those Moonstones, Yue-lao?” she pointed at the pebbles on the ground.

“No,” he shook his head with a smile. “I use them to create what they call Moonstone. But only once in millennia do I succeed in producing some.”

“I -- er --” Bai Qian cleared her throat. “I learned that Moonstones make extremely powerful cores for weapons. Do you have… er...”

Her faced reddened when the old man laughed. He shook his head at her. “Do I have any to spare? Unfortunately, these items I create do not work as people believe. They say a weapon with a Moonstone core is undefeatable, but the word has a variety of meaning. Furthermore, such a weapon has a mind of its own and usually requires something from the wielder. Even if I gave you a basket of Moonstones to bring back to your realm, they would not be of any use to you.”

“Oh,” Bai Qian frowned. It was more complicated than she’d thought. She sighed and changed the subject. “Do you connect people who are destined to be with invisible threads, Yue-lao? Like the legend says.”

“I am afraid I do not live up to this excellent legend,” he smiled.

“So…” she turned up to the night sky. “The people who tie red threads around tree branches and pray that you pair them with their beloved, they’re wasting their time for nothing?”

The old man gave a small shrug. “I have been looking for a way to give them a hint to stop for a long time, but I haven’t succeeded.”

Bai Qian chuckled. “Then… then you also don’t write Fate?”

“I only protect it,” he said.

“Protect it?”

“Yes,” he cast a long look around. “I am charged with the duty of protecting what Destiny weaves for the realms. The shield around the moon derived from my faithfulness to that vow. As long as I do not interfere with what is and consequently alter what will be, the protection here remains and the balance of the universe is preserved.”

“I see. Then it isn’t possible for Luoji to penetrate this place?”

“No. Luoji believes himself to be beyond the universe, and perhaps he is, given his power at the moment. But he is not beyond the laws of Balance.”

Bai Qian slowly nodded, so the moon was really as peaceful and lonely as it looked from afar.

“Now, I take it the enchanted thread I gave you worked, after all?” the old man tilted his head.

“Yes,” Bai Qian said, priorities pouring back into her head. “You gave me that red thread a long time ago, God of the Moon. Did you know then that the eight realms would plunge into the chaos it is in today?”

“I did,” came the calm reply. “Naturally.”

“Do you mean to help us? Is that why you let me in here? And --” Bai Qian recalled the last time she had met him. “Why were you on Mount Cangwu that day, were you talking about Luoji with High God Moyuan? Doesn’t that count as interfering?”

A smile, both kind and amused, broke on his lips as he politely interrupted her. “You have so many questions, my child. But I am afraid I cannot answer them all. Now,” he paused briefly. “Allow me to ask you something first.”

Bai Qian nodded eagerly.

“Why are you here?”

“I --” she contemplated. “You said the red thread could show me the way if I was lost. I am lost. Kingdoms across the eight realms refuse to stand against Luoji, and I’m afraid that when they understand, it’ll be too late. We will be able to destroy the Dark devices, I believe we will; but we’ll also have to face Luoji one way or another… how many soldiers must die before we put an end to him? I’m at the end of my wits, I can’t think of a way to better help my friends in this war.”

“I cannot tell you what to do,” his answer was like another heavy stone being dropped on her chest, but it wasn’t entirely unexpected.

“I understand now that you can’t. And I wasn’t expecting you to tell me exactly what I should do.”

He gave her a slow nod as she continued.

“You said there is more than one future.”

“Indeed.”

“Can you -- explain it to me a little?”

“Every action you take leads to a consequence. Countless possibilities and their consequences, countless futures. Even I cannot tell you for certain which future you are heading to. And the future, once accessed, will be altered.”

“Then,” Bai Qian nodded to herself. “What question I ask you next can also determine which future I will have.”

“Precisely.”

Bai Qian’s heart felt like sinking, but only a bit. Beneath the disappointment, she had understood. She would not find a solution here no matter how powerful or all-knowing the Master of the Moon was, even if he had all the solutions in his hands, giving it to her would be dooming the future.

Some of the clouds drifted out of their way, making the wisdom on the old man’s face more apparent than ever as Bai Qian moved on to ask the question that mattered to her the most.

“Do we have hope to win this war?”

He didn’t respond right away but took a long moment to observe her, as though waiting to see if she was going to change the question. But when she held her silence, he replied.

“You have more than hope. Each of you has everything you need to win this war. But whether you know how to use what you have -- that depends on you.”

Bai Qian averted her eyes towards the boundless distance for a brief while -- it fell on Yehua’s shoulders to win back the eight realms’ loyalty; Moyuan, he was sitting opposite of the Dark Immortal in this game and it was upon him to move the pieces right. Pojing, Yanzhi, and the others had done everything within their abilities to help. Bai Qian looked back at the old man.

“What do I have, Sir?”

“Can you not answer this question yourself?” he responded kindly.

Bai Qian looked down at her feet for a second. She couldn’t. At the moment, she truly did not know what more she could do to contribute to this war. But she knew that dwelling on the subject would not get her an answer, either. Furthermore, the man had told her one thing today, the only one thing was important...

“You said we have hope,” she asked again.

“Yes, you do.”

“Then,” she took a deep breath, smiling -- more to herself than to the man. “As long as hope is there, I will find it.”

Chapter 16, Part 1