Fanfiction 2: Moyuan and Bai Qian - Chapter 7, Part 5 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 7 - The Bell of Donghuang

Part 5

written by LalaLoop
consulting by Juls
edited by kakashi

“I will be at Ruoshui river,” with these words, Donghua swiftly stepped onto his sword and flew out of sight.

And after waving goodbye to the Old Phoenix, who had finally decided it probably would not kill anyone if he left and returned to his Garden, Bai Qian paced back to Kunlun’s hall. She did not know what she hoped to find here, only that this was where it had all begun.

It was night.

She sank into one of the cushions, her face resting on her hands that were folded on the table. Here was where she and Zilan had first met and carried out their first bickering that had turned out to be a daily activity and an irreplaceable part of their lives afterwards, where Lijing had come to see her, to ‘declare his love despite their different lineages’. The thought of those days gave her a strangely empty feeling.

And he. He used to make me do lines in here, because I… got kidnapped. She quietly laughed - how wonderfully childish and simple things had once been.

This hall had also been where she and Lingyu had planned their trip to Qingqiu which had landed them several days of imprisonment in the Ghost tribe’s palace - the fateful encounter that had accelerated a tragedy. Their last happy memory before the war happened.

Tears ran down her face involuntarily.

Bai Qian stood up, walked toward the platform overhead, staring intensely at the sight that made her heart ache more than anything ever had - an empty dais. She bent down and reached forward to touch the wooden armrest. It wasn’t dusty, she smiled, Changshan was always there to make sure of that.

As she retreated to the steps and sat down, the sound of zither music somewhere nearby entered her ears. Knowing too well who the player was, she remained where she was, hugging her knees. But she soon regretted her decision.

Bai Qian frowned - this was not her favorite melody. It reminded her of a cold winter day, of Lingyu’s eyes before his death, of Zilan’s deep and unreadable expression every time he set eyes on Kunlun’s gate, of Yehua’s lonely childhood...

It went on for a while - the dreadful music could suck the life out of the most cheerful person, Bai Qian grunted. A coldness went deep beneath her skin, made its way into her heart. So distressing, yet for some reason, she could not run away, she wanted to keep listening, keep searching inside every note. The agony, the destruction of dreams, the man who had endured it all.

Bai Qian closed her eyes. And she must have done so for longer than she had intended, for when she opened them again, the music had subsided.

She didn't know how long he had stood there at the entrance with his hands behind his back, looking at her curiously as if to ask why on earth she was sitting alone in the unlit hall.

Your music made me want to jump down Zhuxian terrace, she wanted to say, but stopped herself just in time. The Old Phoenix and her brother were not here to come to his defense, it would not be fair.

They stared at each other for a long moment. His face was as pale as it had been last night, though the infuriating nonchalance remained. Moyuan moved closer, his footsteps on the stone grounds leaving almost no sound. And he stopped halfway.

What if, Bai Qian inhaled deeply, her head slightly tilting, what if they were to put a stop to it? A stop to this tormenting game, the unjust punishment they had laid out for each other and looked for that tenderness they had once cherished before it disappeared completely. But how exactly? She did not have the faintest idea how or when to take that step. What would she say to someone after such prolonged and purposeful disdain? And it was becoming more and more difficult by the second.

“Zheyan told me once --” she began, looking blankly into space, “-- that your deepest scars are invisible.”

“Zheyan is very wise,” Moyuan chuckled after a few moments of contemplation. “But I’m afraid he tends to exaggerate.”

Bai Qian nodded, rising from the step, “he does, doesn’t he?” her tone softer than she'd expected.

It was almost frightening to stand in his presence at the moment for she was completely unprepared and knew for a fact that Moyuan was always the exact opposite. Perhaps it was now best to think of an excuse to disappear from this hall and run back home?

But she could not. This was home - this welcoming hall, the study, the potion room with the giant cauldron, the corridors, the very ground below her feet. Her time at Kunlun had been relatively short, but Kunlun was what came to her mind first whenever someone mentioned ‘home’. She and her seniors had all found a home here. It was where she would run to when she needed to feel safe. Even if one day it became an abandoned, forsaken place again, she would always walk back. And he was part of it.

Her treacherous feet took her forward, closer to the man, to everything he represented that she had claimed to hate.

The air was so quiet she felt she could hear the wind outside caressing the mountain. Every step he took towards her heightened her fear. Bai Qian quickly searched her brains - the perfectly done hair, the uptight robe, the awful music, anything, she needed a good reason to turn and run. But they were soon face-to-face with an arm’s length’s distance between them.

With one large final step, Moyuan was so near that she was now looking at the embroidered lines on the front of his robe.

She raised her head to see his hand reaching forward, likely aiming for the stubborn hair strand on her forehead. Bai Qian impatiently pulled it back and tucked it behind her ear. It would fall out of place again, she almost rolled her eyes at him, it always does.

Moyuan silently gave her a searching gaze, moving from the lingering tears on her lashes to her shoulders and her hand that was holding on to the side of her dress, as though he would never take his eyes off her, as though he could stare forever.

She too was staring back into the dark eyes - dark and cold at times, more mysterious than the deepest oceans at others, yet they could not be more obvious and familiar - the familiarity she had failed to notice.

He stepped even closer. Bai Qian’s hand tensed as she felt his fingertips against her wrist and palm. Her head dropped. She did not pull back but simply uncoiled her fingers and welcomed the warmth from his, though she was feeling as if she’d just slipped on an icy staircase.


“You blithering fool!” I roared, his disheveled state had upset me so much I didn't bother to refrain from being rude.

“Couldn't have put it better myself,” said Donghua jokingly. “Although I must say the result isn't all that dreadful.”

“Not now, Donghua.” I threw him a warning look and sat back down behind Moyuan, whose hands were shaking as he pulled down the upper half of his robe. Frustrated, I brushed his hands aside and finished the task myself.

There was hardly any blood, but the sight of the swelling scars made me grind my teeth in anger. I did not regret my earlier exclamation at all.

Being the God of War, Moyuan had earned himself countless of battle scars. But these three were different - one on his back, one near the shoulder and one square on the chest, they were all attention demanding for they were the result of a violation of the most binding law of all the realms. And as harsh as the stubborn little fox was, I had to agree with her judgement that it was quite irrational of Moyuan, a usually considerate being, to have committed such an act.

Was it simply because he had wanted to spare his precious and careless disciple from a potential few days’ pain? Too high a price to pay. Had Xiaowu taken the lightning herself, she would have been heavily injured indeed, but she would have recovered. Moyuan had not - he would have to bear the marks forever as a reminder of the imprudent action, an echo of the blunt and merciless bolts that had not been meant for him.

Though my main source of exasperation at the moment was why Moyuan had sat and idly chatted for that long with the fox. True, he would need me here to tend to the wounds but he could have sent her out of the room to begin the self-healing process sooner.

On second thought, I took a close look at him, there might not be any energy left in him to initiate self-healing.

All three scars looked as though they were about to tear up and bleed. But of course they wouldn’t. This was about his inability to summon and direct healing powers to the injured areas, I concluded. Pain of this kind would travel inward, spread through the body and…

“Nauseous?” I wondered out loud, though the sight of Moyuan clutching his forehead had answered the question.

I had never known this pain, yet the description I had learnt from a selected few was enough for me to imagine and, heaven forbid, wish I would never have to come across.

“Are you not usually able to handle this?” asked Donghua, slightly bemused.

“Normally, yes,” answered Moyuan with difficulty. “But… my healing power was…”

“Stop talking,” I commanded, then turned to Donghua to finish the explanation, at the same time, drawing out a vial from my sleeve pocket. “He's been able to self-heal just fine. But what happened this morning must have put him off balance in addition to his own weakness from the soul sacrifice.”

“Brutal,” Donghua exclaimed, shaking his head.

“Indeed,” I scanned each wound again. “Lord Puhua’s magic is not something you can deceive without consequences. Each lightning trial is designed for the particular immortal only. Anyone less powerful than a high god and the result of this offense would have been definite death.”

Donghua rubbed his temple, in his eyes a look of curiosity and deep understanding for he himself was no stranger to the punishment for defying universal laws.

I could have sworn something that looked like a smile had briefly appeared on Moyuan’s face. His hand was clutching his left shoulder while the other was grabbing onto the armrest, his eyelids shut tightly. Donghua backed away a small distance and folded his arms.

“This,” I said, uncorking the vial, “is going to hurt.”

As quickly as my hands could manage, I poured the content onto the scars.

There was a muffled sound of anguish. His fists were clenching, sweat dripping off his forehead down his neck.

“For Heaven's’ sake,” I could no longer control my voice, “scream if you need to! That's what the shield is for!”

But he did not. Moyuan merely turned to give me a challenging look, as though to ask me if that was all. When a considerable amount of the content from the vial had been expensed, even more quickly, I performed a healing spell to reduce the pain, though his attempts to make his condition look less severe had once or twice increased my urge to leave his wounds as they were. But I got over it as I always had. Growing up with him, I was no stranger to this irksome behavior, and nor was Donghua.

The unpleasant procedure was soon over and as I went on to rebalance his inner energy, Moyuan opened his eyes again, releasing the armrest and making an effort to get back into his meditation position.

“Better?” I asked with a scoff, completing the process with a lazy wave to conjure white bandages, making them strap around his scars.

“I’ll survive,” he said breathlessly.

Moyuan shot me a look indicating he had regained complete awareness and that he could tell what I was thinking.

“You do not tell her.”

“I will have to if she asks,” I retorted, standing up and moving to face him, my arms folded tightly. But I knew very well that would likely never happen. The little fox, and in fact, all her seniors, had it set in their minds that their Shifu was this invincible figure who knew no illnesses. But they were not to blame, I thought, Moyuan had kept up the image perfectly. Lecturing Xiaowu I had done, but I had never actually wondered at her neglect and indifference.

He took another deep breath and turned to look me in the eyes.

“When she makes her decision, it will be one that is free of guilt, free of any sense of obligation.There is nothing more disgraceful than seeking pity,” his voice was cold. “How much I have done for her cannot serve as an incentive in this,” he stopped for a moment to catch his breath. “Who is to say Yehua hasn't done more than I have?”

I was truly out of things to say this time.
Such fools, both he and the brother, though in decidedly different manners. Recalling Xiaowu’s expression when she had bluntly criticized Moyuan, I let out a laugh and shook my head.

“‘Ruthless and unyielding’, I see.”

His eyes narrowed. “Did she say that?”

“Yes, she did,” sitting back down at the table, I sneered, “oh, you must be proud.”

Donghua too had retreated back into his seat and seemed to be absorbed in the chessboard set laid out on the table, the corner of his lips slightly lifting.

There was a sort of inscrutable look on Moyuan’s face that made her narrow her eyes in wonderment. He and his ways were most of the times inscrutable, but right now he was wearing an expression she had seen before, though Bai Qian couldn’t quite place where she’d seen it.

He let go of her wrist, his hands gently pushing her hair back, gliding down her shoulders as Bai Qian felt herself moving forward.

The lack of distance caused her nerveless hand to impulsively spring onto his chest, making a habitual attempt to thrust him back, which was followed by an indistinct sound between a chuckle and a gasp from above. But she never got to find out what that was for a sudden sensation on her forehead reminded her of the pink streak on Fengjiu’s face that day.

Bai Qian felt again the violent urge to turn around and cloud-jump, yet the familiar wintry fragrance from his collar seemed to have paralyzed her legs.

She found herself reaching up to his face, feasting her eyes on him as though he was a text scroll she had not nor would ever be able to finish, her fingers tracing his eyebrow. So gentle, so withheld. So many secrets to fathom. She craved to know them all, to dive into those eyes and leave no corner unexplored.

Bai Qian lowered her head, slightly gripping his sleeve.

“I want to be your disciple,” she said, as she once had done at the steps leading to Kunlun’s hall, for that was what she had been yearning to say.

“Then you are my disciple,” Moyuan whispered back.

And then, he sighed. A long sigh that pierced through her soul, sending sorrow to her heart faster than his gloomy music. She gazed up at him once again, in his eyes now the reflection of the long years of her oblivion.

Slowly he drew nearer. Bai Qian slightly inhaled, deciding to give herself over to the strange uncertainty that was making it impossible to bring a single thought to completion.

His face was quite close to hers, much closer than she had wanted...

Chapter 7 Part 6