Fanfiction: Moyuan and Bai Qian, Book 2 - Chapter 17 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

 

Chapter 17 - The Last Question

written by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi 
consulting by Bunny


Night was endless. The shouting and clanging of weapons had become almost echoes in the distance.

Where is the way home?

Bai Qian didn’t know how she had gotten to the river bank or what she was hoping to find. But she was there – under the silver moon and facing the oblivious body of water that, only hours ago, had been the weapon of her Senior; the location that, only this morning, had been protected by the unbreakable barrier of Xunzhua.

Broken shields, fallen soldiers and dying flames lay here and there on the ground.

Bai Qian found that she didn’t care. Silence filled her head, there was nothing left in her but emptiness, an emptiness where he had been.

Who am I?

She had cried next to his lifeless body, had begged and begged for him to open his eyes again. And then, she had fallen into this terrifying silence; and perhaps it was the silence that had brought her here.

The moon had never been brighter but before her there was only darkness. She knelt at the edge of the water and gazed down. Her reflection stared back, just as faint and empty as herself. As if she was but a dying shadow. Where were her tears? Where was the pain? Or had it been too much that it had killed her?

What am I?

Bai Qian’s eyes pulled themselves shut. She wanted to block out the cries of men in the distance, wanted to forget this war and every face she had come across.

What do I do now that you are gone?

Defend the eight realms, he had said. But she saw no reason to. This city, the eight realms, the universe – they held no value. Not anymore. She had been full of hope. But she was wrong. His promise to be with her – a lie. That Old Man in the Moon’s words – lies. What could be done had been done, yet the world was burning before her eyes. She was ready to let herself be consumed by this silence, this expanding dark hole that had been drilled in her the second she’d raised the fan at him.

Someone coughed. Bai Qian jolted and wheeled around. A soldier bearing Xunzhua’s crest on his armor lay only a few feet away, still clutching his shield to his chest, his gaping wounds bare under the moon.

Bai Qian moved toward him and without thinking she raised her hand to pour immortal energy into him. But it didn’t take her long to realize she couldn’t help. The man was dying. He looked at her, will and courage still burning in his eyes.

“For… for the king,” he breathed. And went still.

Bai Qian lowered her arm. The bodies that sprawled the battlefield, each of these men had fought until their last moment.

Was there a way out? She didn’t know. But these men had died believing that there was. Moyuan’s last words echoed in her head. A chance.

Without you, I have to…

Bai Qian reached forward and gently closed the soldier’s eyes.

Stand.

Against the agony that was numbing her, rooting her to the ground and threatening to turn her to stone, Bai Qian rose to her feet again, heaving for breath.

The moon was looking down upon her.



***


With a rough landing, Bai Qian was in the middle of the battle again. She glanced around, registering everything that was happening. Her friends – all of them except Yehua – were standing their ground against Luoji.

The bodies of a great black bird and a lynx lay battered and were being trampled on, arrows protruding from their backs, black smoke swirling around them as though they had been burned. The other three beasts raged on.

Across the field, her two Seniors were dueling Sufeng and the Spinner.

Bai Qian began to summon her power as she leapt in their direction. Loathing and anger burned inside her like never before. They would die – she promised herself – or at least one of them would die when she struck.

She plunged down, took aim, and before Sufeng could utter a warning, drove her sword into the Spinner’s back.

The Demon stilled for a second, as did her Seniors and Sufeng, when Bai Qian yanked her sword from his flesh. Blood streamed out and dyed his clothes black.

Sufeng pushed the Spinner’s form aside as though he was a disposable piece of clothing and lunged at her. Bai Qian didn’t move an inch, she was never as ready as now. But before those claws could touch her, something came at them from the distance.

Bai Qian dodged, Diefeng and Zilan jumped out of the way. A whip had just hit Sufeng and knocked him off his feet. Him, a fighter who had never once stumbled. That whip’s tongue glowed like fire – Bai Qian noticed before it was retracted with a sharp sound that sliced through the air.

A familiar voice sounded behind her back. “Xiaowu.”

She turned around.

“Jie-jie?”

The red-phoenix eyes looked back at her. Not the woman in the cottage, but the Demon Queen, shimmering with power and immortal grace.

How? Bai Qian wanted to ask. But the word had yet to leave her mouth when the woman spoke. “I am still weak,” she caressed the handle of her whip as though it was a pet. “But I can help.”

Without another word, she soared upward and launched into the heart of the battle, glowing like a flame in the night, the whip in her hand leaving terror with its every strike.

Sufeng had found another ground to continue his battle with her Seniors. Bai Qian looked towards Luoji. Until Zhuowei sent them the weapon from the Glass Tower, they would have to continue to gamble their lives around the Dark Immortal.

“Gu-gu! Gu-gu!”

Bai Qian was still muddled when a figure grabbed onto her.

“Fengjiu!” She seized her niece’s arm. “You’re all right! Are you just back from the Void?”

“Yes…”

“Where’s Lord Donghua? Is he coming?”

To Bai Qian's disappointment, Fengjiu shook her head, speaking in between gasps. “He’s unconscious. I’m about to faint myself, I’ve just cloud-jumped here straight from a sky island...”

“Go to the back,” Bai Qian ordered. “Stay with…”

“I’m not staying in the back! I’m going to fight!”

But no sooner had she finished her sentence than a loud, terrifying screech crashed upon them all from the clouds. It was so loud that Bai Qian had to cast a shield around herself and Fengjiu instantly. What else could there be? What more did the devil have in store for them today?

It was a dragon – she realized. A black dragon.

Into the center the creature descended, breathing fire and thrashing its tail on the landing. Then with a violent whirl of silver smoke, Yehua stood in the dragon’s place, in his hand a sword glowed golden.

As if understanding that a different battle was about to take place, the men shouted for lines and ranks to be formed again. On the other side, Luoji flung away the last of the people who had been dueling him and began to roar his orders.

Bai Qian took her niece by the arm and somersaulted to where her friends were. Yanzhi was clutching a bleeding arm, Pojing’s armor battered and flicked with red. Once again there was a wide clearing between Luoji and themselves. Bai Qian looked behind them – the Kirin riders hovered above, whatever was left of their army had assumed positions. Fuze and his troops had deigned to come down from the hill and join them. Further West, Zhongyin stood beside his sister. The remaining three beasts of the Demon Cave stationed themselves just opposite of the enemy hounds.

Even Puhua’s son had come, standing sheepishly among armed strangers with the lightning rod in one hand. Had he learnt to control his power properly? Why did he look like he had sneaked away while his father wasn’t looking?

“They certainly took their time,” said Pojing as he noticed Fuze.

“We’re still outnumbered,” Yanzhi stated.

“It seems more people are willing to die alongside us,” Pojing replied with a heedless smirk. “I consider that an honor.”

Fengjiu remained stubborn at her side, Bai Qian didn’t bother asking her to stay in the back anymore. Looking to her left, she saw Yehua wordless still. She watched as he slightly lifted his sword, as a tear ran silently down his face, joining the sweat and blood that marked the brutality of this day.

Slowly, Yehua turned around, facing the people who had chosen to stand behind him. Vengeance, fury, death, ruin – whatever reason they each had to fight for, this day they would all fight to protect the city inside the last barrier. The glimmer of hope that had persisted through the dark.

Pojing glanced around. “Whenever you all are ready…”

“Wait!” Bai Qian took a sharp breath. Her friends’ voices ceased immediately.

She could sense… could feel something approaching.

Something familiar.

“What is it?” Pojing asked.

What was it, indeed? Her whole being stilled in anticipation. It was getting louder, stronger. She could hear it even with the voices of thousands all around. Whatever it was... it was tearing through the air like an arrow being released.

Like an instinct, Bai Qian whipped back, hand raised. An object flew into her grip and her fingers snapped shut.

Her eyes grew wide as she looked upon it – the flawless steel, the glittering jewels, the sophisticated carvings, the Moonstone core she had once mistaken for white jade.

Ironfeather.

It vibrated in her hand, sending power rumbling through her skin, into her veins.

Tears welled in her eyes as she came to understand.

Understand why this fan had found her.

Bai Qian looked again far into the distance – a figure had appeared atop a hill, mounting a creature with horns. And even from where she was, Bai Qian could see a nod from the man directed at her. The Eldest of the Crafters.

He was not moving down to join them, Bai Qian concluded and clutched the fan tighter. She turned back to her friends, letting them know she was ready.

Yehua lifted his own sword, his eyes resting upon the steel blade for several seconds.

“For the fallen,” he said.

At the wake of those words, they all charged at the same time. Thunder broke, faint but seemingly capable of damage. Across the field, Luoji brought his sword forward. The dark mass of his followers took the cue and launched at full speed.

But they – they have nothing to fight for, only death, Bai Qian reminded herself as she soared into the air, caught the thunder released by Puhua’s son with the steel fan, felt its power vibrating once more, and made her first strike.

 Chapter 18