Fanfiction: Moyuan and Bai Qian, Book 2 - Chapter 19 Part 4 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

 

Chapter 19 - The Dragon’s Scale

Part 4

written by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi   
consulting by Bunny

Alone in the Guest Hall of Xunzhua, Yehua cast a long look around.

He had once walked in here a broken prince, a failure and a subject of ridicule of the eight realms. To him there was not much to live for at the time, and he had considered the most insane ideas to escape judgement.

But here he was again, about to face the same people – those who had bluntly criticized him but at the same time offered their help, those he had fought to defend, and also those he had come to admire.

“Celestial Crown Prince?” spoke the voice of the King of Xunzhua and Yehua turned around.

The purpose of his visit rushed back to Yehua at once, and he spoke while the king was still making his way to his seat at the front.

“Excuse my abrupt visit, this is rather urgent. In fact, I would have spoken with the princess directly if I’d been granted entry to her Invention Room --”

“My sister?” The king turned.

“The remains of Luoji’s sword’s golden core, are they still intact?”

“It’s in my sister’s charge, as she told us all before you left. I believe she’s still in the process of analyzing the substance.”

Yehua took a deep breath of relief – they still had it. He then spoke in earnest.

“The Celestial tribe and I would be greatly obliged to Xunzhua if you could let me have it.”

“Have…” the king’s brows raised suspiciously. “This golden substance?”

“Yes.”

“No,” was the immediate answer from the king.

Although it was the response Yehua had expected, the delay he knew this rejection was about to create certainly added to the rising urgency in him. Every minute that passed was a minute the item was closer to being altered.

“This is an odd request,” said the king. “I supposed I should ask what you need it for, but whatever it is, my answer is the same. You’ve seen what that energy was capable of; if our shields could be breached within hours, imagine what it could do to the rest of yours. It’s my responsibility to keep it under control within Xunzhua until we are done analyzing and documenting it.”

“And in the case of a power source too great to contain,” Yehua said. “You will move on to destroy it for good.”

“I’m afraid now that the item belongs to Xunzhua, I can’t openly discuss our plans for it with a member of a different tribe. I believe the Celestial court has similar protocols, why do you demand information you know we –”

“The golden substance might be able to save a life,” Yehua cut in with the truth he knew would bring about more shock and questions.

Silence and bewilderment filled the space for several seconds. The king stared at him as though he had lost his mind.

“I assume you’re going to explain that?”

Without wasting another second, a full explanation Yehua provided. The dragon scales, the Celestial Cave in the Demon realms, the golden fire, the five Beasts, Bai Qian’s findings from Kunlun’s library – he laid out what they had discovered, quickly and coherently, leaving as little room for confusion as possible.

It took a while for the king to the sudden mass of information, and he looked doubtful still.

“This is… insane,” was his first comment. “Bringing someone back to life?” He stepped forward. “I don’t understand – aren’t Celestials the leading tribe in protecting and honoring the Sacred Laws of the Universe? Are you saying – as their Lord – you’re wanting to attempt forbidden magic?”

“Not bringing someone back to life,” Yehua corrected. “Preventing a soul from traveling to the Nothingness by regenerating his immortal power.”

There was a great difference between the two premises, but from Xunzhua’s perspective – the kingdom that was centuries ahead of them in advanced magic and did not live by the same beliefs – Yehua was not so sure this difference mattered. To them, perhaps a soul’s departure from its body was an end that could only be reversed by dark magic.

“And – you and the Queen of Qingqiu have sought consultancy about this?” asked the king.

“We have.”

“She did not oppose this plan?”

Yehua nodded. If there was anything that could warrant the King of Xunzhua’s trust, it might just be Bai Qian’s character.

“Let me be clear,” the king’s glare became intense, his head slightly shook. “You would like me to hand you the essence of a power that has massacred our armies and nearly brought down my city?”

Yehua maintained his silence while contemplating a reply as the king continued.

“It’s true that an alliance exists between our kingdoms, but I believe you know more than anyone how unreasonable this request is.”

Yehua inhaled deeply and gave a calm response. “I understand the potential you see in this energy source. I admit I am wanting to do the same as you – exploit it, contain and regulate it, let my people either benefit from or be rid of it. But this is not at all about the substance.”

He stepped closer to the front. “My brother gave the eight realms a chance, can we not return that favor?”

His question was met with silence.

“The God of War is my family,” Yehua stated, with all the sincerity he could gather. “Would you not do the same for your family, King of Xunzhua?”

There might have been empathy that this king was choosing not to express. After all, they could not call themselves friends. There was still trust to be built, grudges to be resolved.

“Your plan with this item does involve removing it from Xunzhua,” said the king, with less harshness and more curiosity. “Suppose I let you have it, who would you have perform the necessary magic to execute this plan?”

“Lord Donghua,” Yehua replied. “Things rarely go wrong with him in charge.”

“What if his limitations prevent him from keeping the energy under control? This power source is more destructive than anything we’ve ever seen, what if your theory is wrong and – without the proper equipment and skills – your people enhance its sinister energy?”

“Father Immortal’s raw power – Celestial power – is only sinister if in the wrong hand. I admit its magnitude is overwhelming, but what we have is only a small fragment of that golden scale, I believe we are more than capable of handling it.”

The next question came curtly. “If the substance couldn’t provide what you hope for, what would you do then?”

“Either send it back here, provided that it is then still useful to your sister, or destroy it,” Yehua said. A promise to himself also.

The king withdrew his arms behind his back, his expression indicating little trust.

“I grieve for every life lost in this war, Celestial Crown Prince. But to save one at the risk of releasing a dangerous force that might harm many, I need more than just words.”

Yehua was momentarily silent. He knew what was being asked of him, and perhaps it would take no less to be entrusted with this responsibility.

He flexed his fingers, a dagger appeared in his grip. Opening his other hand, he held the blade to the middle of his palm.

The amber pair of eyes were locked on the black.

“I said I would die protecting this city as my own home,” Yehua began. “That was not a lie. I’m willing to make that vow again along with this: we will not exploit this substance for weapon-making; if at any point it gets out of control, I will order for it to be destroyed, regardless of whether the God of War has been saved.”

Yehua swiftly moved the tip of the blade across his palm, a thin line of red appeared against his skin, blood seeping out and filling adjacent lines on his palm. The pain was minimal, but the necessary spell had been cast. With his every word, the cut turned from red to silver, absorbing what the magic was supposed to seal.

“The eight realms’ safety is not only your concern, it was also my brother’s, and I will not repay him by disrespecting his last wish.”

A promise sealed with blood – he could not go back on these words without suffering the worst of punishments.

He flexed his hand again and closed his fist, waiting quietly for a response.

“Guards.” There was little else but a tint of satisfaction on the king’s face.A man rushed into the hall with a quick bow. “My King.”

“Let the princess know we will be in the Glass Tower shortly,” was the order. “And I will appreciate her presence there.”

As fast as he’d come in, the guard left. The uneasiness returned and lingered for a while.

“I know the eight realms’ doubts, including yours, towards the Celestial Court won’t dissipate anytime soon,” Yehua spoke his mind. “But I fully intend to change your opinion.”

“Dissipate, never,” said the king. “But then – you are not yet a Skylord, those judgements can be altered depending on what you do when you are. If you intend to make some more foolish mistakes, Celestial Crown Prince, make them now, not after the Dragon Crown is atop your head.”

Yehua chuckled. Yes, perhaps for another short while, he would have to continue living under his grandfather’s shadow. Then, for better or for worse, he would finally be seen as the leader of the highest court in the eight realms.

In response to the king’s words of truce, Yehua said, “I assume you have received the invitation from my court. My coronation ceremony will be held three months from today, your and the princess’ presence would give us great honor.”

“We’ve received it,” he answered. Then, after a brief pause, the subject was changed abruptly. “The Queen of Qingqiu, I was told her right arm was broken when your people found her on Mount Cangwu?”

“It’s mostly healed,” Yehua replied. “New responsibilities at Qingqiu have been keeping her occupied. Is there anything you would like me to let her know?”

The answer was instant: “That I look forward to working with the new Celestial Court and its allies.”

With that the king motioned towards the door.

A diplomatic statement any leader would make at the dawn of a new era, Yehua humored himself. Not a lie, but neither entirely the truth.

With ceremonious nods at one another, they both made their way out and moved towards the Glass Tower.


***



They were all inches deep in snow, even at the Sea of Innocence. Bai Qian pulled on the thick collar of her cloak to keep her neck warm. Falling snow bit at her nose and her feet were freezing inside her boots. Standing among Yehua, Lord Donghua, and the new Head Scholar of the Nine Heavens, she gazed at the platform on the opposite island, where a marble platform was placed in the center; and on top of it – Moyuan’s still body lay .

Bai Qian still couldn’t believe it had come to this, that people had actually listened to her and were now attempting to bring him back. It was as if she was standing inside a dream in a faraway land of snow where the most unlikely thing was about to happen.

“Please be careful, Lord Donghua,” warned the newly appointed Head Scholar. He was a young man, eyes brimming with passion, someone Yehua trusted would be able to execute new ideas without breaking traditions and lead the Celestial High Scholars to a more united future.

The man eyed the tiny vial in Donghua’s hand as the latter tipped it to and fro to observe the golden substance.

It had taken them days to continue the work Xunzhua had initiated with what was left of the golden dragon scale, to run all kinds of tests and write hundreds of reports. Along with them, Bai Qian had read every single word of those reports, had spent sleepless nights going over and over the substance’s characteristics, being a part of deciding whether this was still a good idea. And at last, with her and Yehua’s agreement, Donghua’s trusted scholars had pronounced it safe for this task.

The guards of the Sea of Innocence had been ordered away, they now had this entire quarter of the sky to carry on with the plan -- letting the Celestial energy heal Moyuan.

All the deaths and destruction from that night flashed in her head again as she looked at that vial. Knowing what it was capable of frightened her. It should help Moyuan, she knew it should…

But only with the appropriate execution.

The substance could not restore the cultivation and power Moyuan had lost, they’d been told. But the miraculous Celestial energy of a Primordial dragon could act as a healing power and regenerate the flow of immortal essence.

With the amount Xunzhua and Yehua had ordered to be used for their tests, there was not much left in that vial. Though they didn’t need much, Donghua had specified.

“A few drops will be enough,” said the young scholar again.

Yehua, who had not bothered to brush the snow off his black cloak, said, “The second it gets more complicated than we discussed, Lord Donghua, please cease the process.”

Of course, Bai Qian thought to herself, that depended entirely on Donghua’s personal judgement since this next part relied on his ability to withstand the impact with this energy once it would have been released.

The silver-haired god nodded with no words and little emotion, slightly squinting at the substance one last time. “We have just enough.”

Then, quickly he strode ahead, flew over to the opposite island and landed next to the marble platform. Giving the lifeless Moyuan a quick look, he pulled open the seal on the vial.

Bai Qian jolted at his every movement despite how swift and effortless it looked; and her eyes did not leave that vial -- one drop wrongly spilled and things could end in a disaster.

“He knows what to do,” Yehua said to her.

“I’m not worried about Lord Donghua’s capacity,” Bai Qian bit down on her lips. “Just his… love for testing the limits.”

Right then she could almost imagine Donghua standing in front of the Stone of Reincarnation, smirking and asking what it could do as he scratched his name from its surface.

“That’s what we all have been doing for the last few days, Queen of Qingqiu,” the young scholar said. “Testing the limits.”

Bold but reasonable, Bai Qian responded with an agreeing smile. This must be why Yehua had picked this man for the position he was holding now.

Her attention darted back to the island.

The scholar flew after Donghua, shooting his spells at the three black enchanted cauldrons they had brought here especially for this task. All three levitated themselves and tipped, releasing the magic within. A large, thick shield started to form around them all, aiming to keep the potential danger from reaching other Celestial territories.

With circular motions of his arm, Donghua conjured another force field around the marble platform, then moved on to toss the vial in midair. It hovered upside down inches above the shield, the glowing liquid inside escaped and instantly something erupted.

An energy, golden and unyielding, began to pour out, dominating the air they breathed. The light it emitted was almost blinding. Then – came the ferocious heat, like that fire within the cave.

Bai Qian stepped back, summoning her fan, not taking her eyes off that platform. She could feel the snow around her feet melt, hear waves of force howling all around, pushing against her own protective shields. And -- with terror -- she saw not Lord Donghua, but the form of a horned monster with glowing red eyes standing behind Moyuan’s platform.

What it was exactly, she couldn’t tell. Not a Kirin, dragon, serpent, nor anything she had seen before. Its limbs were thicker than oak trunks with claws that looked like they could rip apart all these islands, the dark pit that was its mouth letting out roar after roar that shook the sky. It was as if hell itself had been unleashed.

“What’s going on!” Bai Qian whipped to Yehua and his scholar – the latter looking more bewildered than the former -- sweat sliding down her temples. “Is he being claimed by the Dark? Should we stop him?”

“He’s not being claimed!” Yehua shouted his answer, the silver mask no longer covering his face.

Black whirls of smoke that felt nothing less than Demonic radiated from the monster, fighting and forcing the golden energy into the shield that surrounded Moyuan. For a second it looked like it was about to swallow Moyuan and the platform whole.

The large shield around the island vibrated and flickered, but it remained intact.

The next second, hell vanished.

The last of the golden energy was sucked into Moyuan’s body with a sound like an explosion in the center of the earth.

The three of them jolted with the sudden ceasing of the force waves and regained their balance as the sky islands were stable and the sky was clear once more. Where the monster had been, Bai Qian saw the silver hair and the purple robe again. A sword appeared in Donghua’s hand and he plunged it into the ground. It took Bai Qian a few seconds to realize he was using it for support.

Now she understood. Donghua wasn’t turning Demonic, he had always been that way. Beneath the godly appearance and the indifferent façade.

But Bai Qian did not have long to wonder about what she’d just seen. Her anxiety was intensifying – it was done.

Fuxi’s Celestial energy had been given to Moyuan. What… what was going to happen now?

Her heart was pounding so violently that she believed she would pass out if she so much as moved an inch .

But move she did. Along with Yehua and the Head Scholar.

“Lord Donghua,” the young man expressed his concern once they had arrived.

“No matter,” Donghua responded, and from that second on Bai Qian didn’t hear his voice anymore.

As a matter of fact, she chose not to hear or see anything at all. All her senses were concentrating on the man on the marble platform. Her knees slightly wobbled and she held her breath. Step by step she came closer.

Something had changed – she gazed at the closed eyes. Or was she imagining things?

Tears welled in her eyes and she struggled to keep them from falling down.

He had asked her to take his life that day, and she had done it. Where was that strength that had been in her at that moment?

Bai Qian placed her fingers on his wrist.

“He is not breathing,” Yehua’s voice said.

Something struck at her throat. The tears she’d been holding back were hot against her cheek.

Pulse. Against her fingertips. Faint and inconsistent.

“He shouldn’t be, Your Highness” she heard the scholar’s cautious response to Yehua. “Not yet.”

But it didn’t matter. Bai Qian took a deep breath, her whole body trembling in an effort to remain composed.

He was back. He was here again.

“There is…” Yehua stumbled. “Pulse.”

“Yes,” affirmed the scholar. “Your Highness.”

The word then slipped out of her as Bai Qian tightened her hand around his wrist, “Shifu.”

“We will have to wait, Queen of Qingqiu,” the young scholar spoke again. “It will take a while before his senses are restored.”

Bai Qian looked towards him, her voice feeble. “How long?”

“Weeks, months. I cannot be sure.”

Months? She was prepared to wait for decades.

“Excuse me, Your Highness,” the scholar contemplated. “May I have your permission to leave? The physicians must be summoned.”

“Leave,” Yehua nodded.

As soon as his scholar and Donghua cloud-jumped, Yehua uttered in disbelief, his voice breaking. “We weren’t wrong.”

Bai Qian sank on her knees, leaning against the marble with her hand still firmly around Moyuan’s wrist. Tears chased one another down her face as she cried with all her heart.

The snow was returning. Bai Qian looked up at the same time the wind blew falling snow into her face. The freezing cold was real.

Now she was sure all of this had also been real.