Fanfiction: The Moon Mirror (Pojing & Bai Qian Alternative Ending) - Chapter 8 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 8

written by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi  

consulting by Bunny

*The battle at Xunzhua

So the price for a magnificent coat of snow is a pathetically weak set of jaws.

The King of Xunzhua glared down at the motionless body of Sufeng. Still in his true form when he’d taken his last breath, Sufeng’s once proud white fur was tainted by the blood that had yet to cease pouring out from his multiple wounds, his lower jaw nearly severed from his head and hanging off to one side, in his eyes the fury and shock of that last moment still present.

The leopard king stumbled on his four legs. He could not deny that he was near dead himself, but satisfaction was spreading through him like a flood over a broken dam. The man who had humiliated the memory of his father -- Luoji’s best lieutenant -- dead at last, dead in front of the eight realms.

The men in the vicinity stared, Sufeng’s soldiers registered their leader’s battered body with blank expressions, as if they didn’t know whether to come up with a new plan or simply drop their weapons.

Gratification rose and burst through Pojing’s throat, and with a roar he transformed back.

In his human form, the pain from his injuries was greater, his senses were weakened and the open wound near his throat began to bleed more. But he knew this battle was far from over, the world was watching and their enemies as well as last-minute declared allies needed to see that he was alive and well. They needed to know that Xunzhua was not masterless as they were hoping.

His eyes were stung by the remnants of the magic battles that had taken place around the area, but he forced them to stay open.

The sting of blood spread in the air like poison. The last hours had been brutal, the men had fought with magic then brute force until all they could do was swing their swords and shields.

In the distance, his generals were shouting orders to regroup, spellcasters rushing to their positions to repair shields. Luoji’s soldiers and the turned-celestials were still fighting with all they had as they’d been doing all along, even if their numbers were crumbling, as if they knew death was better than any alternatives.

This day looked very much like the end -- an end he had always imagined. Fire consuming the world, endless clashing of swords and shields, men fighting till their last breath for a tomorrow they might not be a part of.

Pojing stumbled and cast a look at the battlefield that stretched over the horizon, the faces of the dead that sprawled on for miles jabbing at his eyes -- broken swords, bodies skewered through even with their armors on, riders twisted beneath their mounts with no better fate, beasts crippled and blinded howling to the sky. Wherever he looked, death and agony were staring back like a judgement, one that would haunt him for a long time to come no matter what the outcome of this battle would be.

Luoji himself was nowhere to be seen, not even a body, and with this realization a cold terror came to Pojing.

Where was she?

Scanning the battlefield in all directions, his dread grew. He could spot the Ghost Princess’ figure, the Sea Dragon Prince a few yards away from her, Kunlun and Penglai’s scholars scattered all over, the red, glowing whip sweeping the enemy’s lines in the distance that belonged to the Demon Queen… but some who had charged with them were no longer standing. And there was absolutely no sign of Bai Qian. Despite the chaos, he had always been able to make her out from the crowd, to find her again after losing sight of her, until now -- until the duel with Sufeng had claimed all the attention and energy he’d possessed.

His breathing came to a halt as his eyes swept over the dead at his feet again, furious at himself for even considering the possibility that she was among them. But a part of him could not deny that it was possible. Her brother had been, after all, slain before their eyes.

Despite the sharp pain in his ribcage that was growing by the minute, he moved across the killing field, ignoring the gaping eyes around that were upon him. Terror, resentment, thirst for revenge -- whatever those who’d watched Sufeng die had for him at the moment, he didn’t much care, at least none of them dared to come near him yet.

His stomach churned as he caught sight of something on the ground. He crouched and turned over a body of a female soldier -- the same height, a familiar silver star-shaped hairpin that seemed to come from the Fox Tribe. A pair of blank eyes stared back at him.

Not her.

Pojing looked in the vicinity, his throat dry. There lay another woman, crushed underneath the weight of her horse, dark hair spread over her shoulders like a blanket…

He bolted in her direction but sense held his feet back the next moment. The woman had wings -- broken wings that were nearly severed from her back. It wasn’t Bai Qian.

He picked his way across another distance in desperation. Here and there, he spotted bodies that could be hers, yet none of them were. She was nowhere to be found. Perhaps this was good news? No, not at all. The field stretched for mile after mile, she could be anywhere out there, with broken limbs, burned skin, trampled on, a knife buried in her flesh, or worse… a blank face and eyes bereft of light like the rest of these soldiers.

He could not find her, Pojing admitted after another few minutes of dragging himself across the pile of corpses, but he had found countless of his men. Some of them he knew, some of them had been nothing but moving suits of armour to him. But he could see their faces now, tainted by horror and pain. There was screaming too, near and far, screams for help that would never come.

The atmosphere suddenly tensed, and his ears picked up on something before he had to look up. Soldiers on the other side were starting to surround him -- on foot, on Kirins, on horseback, ready to strike. One by one, they inched closer, perhaps hoping to bring him down by their number.

“My King!” a voice called to him in the distance. Several voices.

It was not over yet.

The King of Xunzhua stood up straight, he glanced at each of the faces around him, taking in their fear with a savage sense of satisfaction.

Then, with a movement too fast for any of them to react, he yanked a spear from the clutch of a fallen soldier below and threw it straight at one of the Kirin riders. The man fell from his saddle with the spear buried in his chest. Grabbing a half broken shield from the ground, the king leapt forward and, before commotion broke among the remaining men, he was on the Kirin’s back.

Still, he commanded, pulling hard on the leash.

The beast stomped its feet and thrashed in protest, screeching and threatening to throw him off. But he kept a merciless grip on the reins despite the increasing ache in his bloodied fingers.

No beast defies me.

Soon, the creature yielded, not due to any new-found loyalty, but pure fear of a force he could not fight against and did not wish to anger.

Somewhere among the chaos, voices called out to him again. He clutched the shield tighter, ready for the next onslaught. As long as the light in the Glass Towers were lit and the city was untouched, his men would have a reason to keep fighting, and so would he.

Be alive, Queen of Qingqiu.

She had never looked to him for comfort, had always found her North in someone else. But they had fought and survived together this far, had always found and saved each other from the most dire situations. Then they would keep each other marching on, would both face the world stronger and more defiant.

He knew the God of War had given his life in exchange for the sword his brother wielded. He knew what that meant.

But grant me a courtesy, Queen of Qingqiu, and let me find you again

Chapter 9