Fanfiction: Moyuan and Bai Qian, Book 2 - Chapter 19 Part 1 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)


Chapter 19 - The Dragon’s Scale

Part 1

written by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi  
consulting by Bunny

“Seventeenth,” Zilan’s hands were on her shoulders. Bai Qian slightly turned her head to let him know she was listening.

“Seventeenth,” he continued. “Our Seniors will arrive any second, they will want to pay respect to Shifu.”

“Give me another minute,” she said. “Just another minute.”

Zilan stooped down, his face full of worry. With a sigh, he looked at her for a long while.

“All right,” he said at last, and quietly left.

Alone again inside Kunlun’s meditation chamber, Bai Qian kept still at the base of the rocky platform on which Moyuan was lying. She hadn’t moved since the moment she’d settled down and placed her hand on his arm. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed; but she knew that soon, Kunlun would be flooded with people other than her Seniors. Of course they would want to pay respect to the God of War before he was taken to the Sea of Innocence – the sacred land of the Celestials.

It was hard, even now, for her to believe he was gone. On his face still remained that trace of gladness and hope he’d worn just before her weapon had struck him – gladness in the light of a solution, hope for those at the front.

The Celestial physicians had come and gone; Yehua had been here, he had sat like she was now for almost a day before other duties demanded his presence. Her Second Brother had tried to make her leave; a messenger from Xunzhua had conveyed to her the concern from her friends from afar. Lord Donghua had exploited all resources at his disposal, exhausted his own energy, and called on the help of other High Gods only to conclude again there was nothing else they could do.

Bai Qian hadn’t dared look any of them in the face; she was terrified to see their condolence, terrified that she would start screaming and crying and collapse to the ground in front of them. If only she could seal that entrance to keep out the sound of their voices – the voices that so audibly reminded her she would have to let him go sooner or later.

Bai Qian reached up and smoothed out the fabric of his white collar.

“There are 130,973 steps, and two hundred more, from the bottom of the mountain to this cave.” [*]

Yes – she was quite sure of that number.

“I didn’t have to count. My head was empty and somehow I just knew.”

Every tree, every twig, every morning dew drop – she had also seen them all. The mountain had been celebrating the newly restored peace in its ever ancient way.

Tears came to her eyes.

“Did they tell you, Shifu?” she whispered. “We’ve won.”

Moyuan had kept his promise to the world.

But now – how was she to keep her promise to him?


***

Cold and quiet – it was how Yehua had always remembered this Dragon Hall, even during his grandfather’s days. At times – when no one was around – he would stand here, just as he did now, and stare at the golden throne he’d had no desire to sit on.

It had been a life he’d wanted desperately to run away from, yet now it was a life thousands had died to help him retrieve.

With soundless steps he moved towards the marble dais at the front, recalling that older and much more powerful men had walked this floor before him.

It was now his responsibility. His destiny.

There was yet an uncertainty and rippling fear in him.

“Your Majesty,” Jiayun and Tianshu’s voices echoed loudly in the empty hall.

Majesty – was that what he was now? This inevitability still seemed quite distant to him. But Yehua understood that it was time – time to leave behind that young and reckless Celestial Crown Prince, time to don the Dragon Robe and face his people.

And for the first time in his life, he would not be doing so against his will.

As he turned around, both of his lieutenants knelt.

“The Celestial Court awaits your order.”


***


As Bai Qian stepped out of the meditation cave, she tried her best not to meet anyone’s eyes. Still, she recognized many who were present. A terrible gloom hovered above them all, likely never to leave. Lord Donghua and Fengjiu, their faces still bearing scars from the battle, were speaking to a number of Celestials in a corner. Her Senior Changshan was doing the same, tending to their guests well, despite his own shock and grief. If they needed her to put on a calm and organized front for the sake of Kunlun’s reputation, she would, thought Bai Qian. Somehow she would have to find it in her to battle against this crushing pain and stand alongside her Seniors.

“Seventeenth,” it was her Sixteenth Seniors again.

“Senior Zilan,” Bai Qian spoke, blinking several times to adjust her eyes to the light outside the cave.

He walked closer to her. “Where – where are you going now?”

“I –” she stammered a little, knowing that in front of Zilan, she was free to be as broken and uncertain as she wanted.

“It’s all right,” he said as they both walked away from the cave. “You need a rest, I’ll make sure no one bothers you.”

Bai Qian said nothing. Was a rest really what she needed? She doubted she would know what she needed or wanted again. How was Yanzhi? How was Xunzhua? Had her parents arrived yet? Where was the Crafters’ Eldest? So many questions, yet it was if words were jumbled in her throat and refusing to come out.

Zilan nodded at her silence, then reached into his sleeve pocket and pulled out a white piece of fabric, the sight of which made Bai Qian feel as though her insides were being twisted and burned.

“I’m sure this is yours,” he said.

The handkerchief she had torn in half – it was now mended, though perhaps by someone who didn’t have much of an idea about sewing.

“I took it out of his robe a few days ago. I – er – I mended it after you left that day,” Zilan put the fabric into her hand and gestured at the overlapping lines of thread that connected the two halves.

“I see,” Bai Qian said and lay the handkerchief flat on one of her palms.

It was then that she noticed something she hadn’t seen before, something that must have been there all along.

The pattern that lined the white fabric – in silver threads, just like the rest of the cryptic embroidery in the centre, and quite difficult to see -- it was the same pattern around the mirror in the cave the Demon Queen had taken them to.

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[*] For more details, refer to Outtake 1