Fanfiction 2: Moyuan and Bai Qian - Chapter 7, Part 6 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 7 - The Bell of Donghuang

Part 6

written by LalaLoop
consulting by Juls
edited by kakashi

When Bai Qian ran out of Kunlun’s hall, she set out straight for the teahouse where she and Zilan had agreed to meet. In fact, if the back of her brain hadn’t yelled out Zilan’s name, she would have lost track of time completely.

How long had it really lasted? The feel of his sleeve and his hands on her arms felt quite recent. A few seconds? No, it must have been longer than that at least. She remembered seeing some creases on his sleeve when she had let go.

And it turned out she was not late to the tea house at all. Zilan was in fact surprised at her being much earlier than he’d expected since she usually always liked to cut it close. And as Bai Qian sat down on the chair opposite to Zilan, she reckoned the look on her face must have said it all because he immediately asked if she had spoken to Moyuan before coming.

Not knowing how to bring herself to tell even the Senior who understood her best what had happened, Bai Qian was extremely thankful that she was talking to Zilan, one of the more intuitive ones of her seniors.

“So what was it about then?” he asked in a direct tone, his eyes looking blankly at the performance downstairs. The dancers were telling the particular story about a young girl who disguised herself as a boy so she could sit in school. Bai Qian never paid much attention but she vaguely remembered this story always ended with butterflies fluttering above two very unhappy looking people.

In as few words as possible, she told him.

Zilan listened with the annoying know-it-all look on his face. The account once or twice made him nearly drop his teacup in astonishment. Though, claiming that he had always ‘known’, Zilan said he was not at all too surprised with the way things were standing. Truth be told, Bai Qian was not too sure what Zilan thought he knew and how much he had known before.

When asked about what she had thought, however, she blurted out the first thing that came to mind with an absent-minded shrug before her head could wrap around a proper answer. The result of which was an expression from Zilan that was somewhere between utterly bemused and disappointed - it was hard to tell which one was dominating - as though he thought she was deliberately withholding information.

“What do you mean it was blurry?” Zilan’s forehead wrinkled.

Bai Qian’s brows furrowed, now that she had thought about it, she didn't know what else she could have said since that was all she could think of for a description of the evening - extremely blurry and confusing, which was followed by a feeling that had lead her to believe both of them had stood in Kunlun hall for hours. Though this was something she'd rather not say out loud.

"Because there were too many things at once," Bai Qian blinked as she thought of the touch of his forehead against hers, the silent and sad smile. "An apology," she recalled somewhere amidst the daze, she had felt her hand being disengaged from the front of his robes and guided to his sash. "And -- er -- sort of -- a promise, and -- understanding," her voice trailed off.

Bai Qian glanced back at Zilan, who looked as if he was trying to form a question, but didn't know how, the tips of his brows almost touched. But despite whether Zilan had understood or not, Bai Qian decided she'd rather tackle the four Beasts of Yingzhou than explain any further, if not to say it was a miracle that she could remember anything at all.

“I don't know how much clearer I can be,” said Bai Qian truthfully, taking another sip of tea and averting her eyes, pretending to watch the dance downstairs.

“Seventeenth, what you said is the exact opposite of ‘clear’," Zilan protested.

“Maybe if you had the guts to face Princess Yanzhi, Sixteenth Senior,” she retorted, “you’d see for yourself that I'm telling the truth.”

“Nevermind then,” Zilan grunted, deciding to give up the argument. Bai Qian simply shrugged and went back to her cup of tea.

“Well, all in all,” he raised his cup, “I feel extremely honored that you have chosen to come here and join me instead of keep standing in that hall.”

“No one at Kunlun can compare to my favorite Senior,” Bai Qian mischievously smiled.

“No one?” Zilan leaned forward.

“No one.”

“What about --” he rested his chin on his hand, pretending to ponder, “--what about in the future?”

“Absolutely no one,” Bai Qian’s smile widened.

“But let's not tell Shifu that, agreed?” He smiled back, his eyes twinkling.

“Agreed,” they clinked their cups and emptied them, laughing like the old days.

Late into the night, they left as soon as the performance downstairs was over and started to wander to places. And to take the attention off of herself, Bai Qian began asking Zilan about the Sea of Innocence and why he had always been avoiding the subject. And now that there were no excuses, Zilan reluctantly told her of the elixir he had made for Lijing’s child and the reason he had decided to punish himself, a deed he would have seen to the end had it not been for Moyuan’s interference. The subject brought their wandering footsteps closer to the forest near the border of Ghost Palace. The place was dark and quiet when they arrived. Too quiet, in fact, Bai Qian noticed.

“I was a little surprised when Shifu told me to give up the idea, I thought he would have agreed with me.”

“You were trying to save a dying child,” said Bai Qian. “It wasn’t a question of lineages.”

Zilan made a sound that indicated he had heard it before. “But,” he continued, “it doesn’t matter. Because my attempt to punish myself has always been the least of the problem.”

Bai Qian said nothing. She understood Zilan had opened his heart for much longer than he’d wanted today and had decided it was time to close it again.

A short silence went by and Zilan quickly changed the subject.

“And I think I’ve figured out why Second Senior wasn’t very pleased that day, when you came from Qingqiu.”

“Why?” asked Bai Qian.

“He must have seen the --” Zilan nervously laughed “-- er - damage you and I have done to Shifu’s study.”

“Oh,” Bai Qian felt herself going red. “We can -- pay him back later.”

“With what?” Zilan scoffed, “those tea cups…”

Suddenly, he held his arm sideway in front of her, stopping her from taking another step. Bai Qian looked up at him in confusion then to the front, in the direction he was staring.

Someone was running towards them. Bai Qian held onto her fan but then quickly loosened her grip as the figure became clearer.

“Yanzhi!” cried Bai Qian and Zilan both while the latter darted forward and caught the Ghost Princess in his arms, his jaw dropping open in shock at her awfully disheveled state. Yanzhi was looking as if she’d just engaged in and lost a fight. She was breathing heavily and nearly collapsed. There were scratches on her hands, some of which were bleeding.

“They're catching up, we don't have time…” she breathed, “we have to get out of here…”

“What are you...” Zilan frowned, trying to take a close look at her. But he was cut off by someone else’s shout.


Bai Qian turned to see Lijing also dashing towards them, looking no less frantic and desperate than his sister. Something was moving far behind him, she could not tell what it was..

Though before they could make sense of what was happening, Lijing turned around to look at the assassins then back at them and waved his arm with what seemed to be an enormous amount of power in their direction. Bai Qian swiftly turned to the side to dodge. His magic went straight and hit where Yanzhi was standing. Not having expected a force of such magnitude, Zilan had not conjured a strong enough spell to parry Lijing’s.

Something that looked like a shield surrounded the two of them then. With a second strike from Lijing, they were sent flying away and disappeared from view.

“What did you do!” Bai Qian glared at Lijing in astonishment. “Where did you send them!”

“They've seen us… you cannot fight them. RUN!” bellowed Lijing, looking significantly weakened by the magic he had just done.

“Who’s ‘them’?”

“He’s here...” said Lijing, gasping for breath. “Go! Tell the Crown Prince… Lord Donghua… anyone...”

Before he could finish, however, he was knocked to the ground by a jet of black smoke coming from behind. Bai Qian turned in the direction it had come from - a number of black figures were approaching them at rapid speed.

Ghost assassins, coldness swept down Bai Qian’s spine as the figures were closing in, there were more than ten of them… twenty… or even more. There was no time for a plan. Something told her that to remain would be certain death. She spun around as Lijing lept on his feet and they both were running without another word.

Blasting forces back as she ran, Bai Qian could hear the sound of crashes and collisions as her spells hit random targets. They could have eliminated some of the assassins, but judged by the rumbling sound of their footsteps, she definitely had not taken out too many. She did not dare look back and neither did Lijing, any hesitation could cost them their lives.

But they did not get far. It was not long before the assassins surrounded them both. Bai Qian had started to understand why Lijing had to hide Yanzhi from view: They could not outrun these assassins who had been trained to hunt and kill. They would have to either fight back or not be seen at all.

Blocking attacks from all sides, conjuring shield after shield only to see them crumble under continuous attacks, Bai Qian started to panic. What frightened her even more was that her powers were being suppressed. She glanced around to see more ghost assassins had tightened the circle, some of them casting spells to surround the space they were battling in.

Just then, something furry and enormous flew into Bai Qian from the side with a thunderous roar, slamming her onto the hard ground. Groaning in pain, Bai Qian opened her eyes to see the Golden Lion on top of her, its teeth baring. The sharp claws that were now pushing into her shoulders had left deep and long cuts on her arm, from which blood was dripping onto the ground. It gave another beastial roar and slapped the Kunlun fan out of her hand.

The Lion then quickly retreated. But before Bai Qian could summon any form of defense, she was being hoisted up in the air. A robe appeared in mid air, tightening itself around her like a slithering snake. She glanced back down to see Lijing lying unconscious, one of the assassins was laughing maniacally, stepping on Lijing’s back to force him to stay still. More assassins in black were showing themselves and joining them.

The crowd slowly came into view as Bai Qian felt every last drop of blood leaving her body.

Qingcang - he was standing in front of them with the Double Crescent Halberd in his hands, wearing the armor he had worn the day Moyuan had sealed him inside the bell. Shimmering crimson light surrounded him, his expression more vicious and savage than ever.

This was not possible, Bai Qian’s mind froze in disbelief. Qingcang… here… How could he be here without anyone knowing about it? The sky had been so peaceful all night. And the bell, they had all been assured that the bell was a complicated prison system that could activate self-destruct mechanisms as soon as attempts to break out were detected. Not too long ago, Donghua had gone to Ruoshui River to check on the bell himself, which was no less than a hundred miles from here, supposedly trapping Qing Cang within.

Being inside the assassins’ seals and enchantments, Bai Qian tried to register the facts as quickly as she could - her powers had been drastically reduced, Lijing did not look like he could move. If one of them could cloud jump all four out of here, it would be Yanzhi. But she was locked in a shield at the moment. Bai Qian’s cold hands were now shivering even more. Were Yanzhi and Zilan still anywhere nearby? Where had Lijing sent them? They would not be able to break themselves out of the shield for a long time, unless released by Lijing.

Panting and feeling a sharp pain on her injured arm, she saw Qingcang raise his arm. Instantly, she was pulled toward him until they were face-to-face. The Golden Lion was pacing back and forth behind him in excitement.

“Siyin,” hissed Qingcang’s coarse voice, loathing etched across his face. “I thought we would have to meet at Ruoshui River.”

Bai Qian struggled to undo the robe, but it was no use. Even if her powers hadn't been affected, she doubted she would have been able to get out of a magical bond conjured by the Ghost Lord himself.

“Ruoshui River,” Qingcang continued in his snake-like voice. “Yes, where Moyuan imprisoned me 70,000 years ago. Do you remember?”

He advanced, “but here you are.” As Qingcang walked closer, Bai Qian came to notice that his figure was strangely fuzzy. A spirit, she realized, it was Qingcang’s spirit that had escaped from the Bell. How? But that, of course, held no importance since he was wielding the halberd. Spirit or not, the Ghost Lord had had her disarmed and bonded.

“You crave to know how I could be here, do you not?” asked Qingcang. “Do not worry, you will know soon enough. In fact, I intend to have a little chat with Moyuan myself.”

He broke into an insane laugh, a laugh that made Bai Qian feel all things happy and peaceful belonged to a different lifetime - Donghua, Zheyan, her and Zilan’s conversation, Moyuan, and the brief moment that felt like an eternity they had shared in the hall, they all seemed so far away and out of reach.

“Ever wondered how long you could last without that bastard around to shield you, Siyin, without the wall of the Bell standing in between? I have. Shall we find out?”

Qingcang ground his teeth, his vengeful and merciless eyes were looking at her as though he was about to tear her into pieces. Bai Qian shuddered when she realized that might not be far from reality.

A derisive smile spread across his face. His flaming red eyes looked deprived of all emotions. Then he made a slapping motion with his arm, throwing her sideway with formidable force. Bai Qian landed on the ground next to Lijing with a thud, her arms almost completely numb.

“I truly did not expect to see you at our humble gathering tonight,” he said again. “But since you are here, I will not object to starting this early. How about an early dose for you before I go and take care of Moyuan?”

Bai Qian did not have an idea what he was talking about, but seeing that they were as good as dead if they could not find a way out, she didn't care to interpret this threat but instead pulled herself up in sitting position and concentrated on regaining her powers, staring around, hoping to get an idea of how to escape the seals the assassins had put up.

“No,” Qingcang shook his head with a feigned concerned look as though he knew what she was thinking, “I advise you not to attempt to cloud-jump, you will not succeed. And you will be very sorry indeed.”

Then, he raised his halbert. “I apologize for having nothing new to entertain you with, High Goddess,” he said with a murderous smirk. “This will only feel like a lightning trial.”

Still breathing heavily and frantically trying to locate her fan, Bai Qian gave no reply. Blood was still running down her arm from the deep cuts.

Qingcang pointed his halberd straight at Bai Qian. Flashes of light erupted and the next thing she knew, she was screaming at the lop of her lung.

A savage wave of pain like nothing she had ever known before was scorching through her body as the lightning jets from the halberd hit her one by one. All noises around began to fade, blood pounding against her ears. Every inch of her flesh felt as though burning and freezing all at once.

She was shaking from head to toe as she heard Qingcang approaching, which told her he had stopped with his attack, his image was becoming clearer, more solid.

“What is it, Siyin?” said Qingcang above her head as Bai Qian felt the rope around her disappear in his voice a hint of honest surprise. “Has Moyuan been such a pathetic teacher that you have never learnt to resist a little lightning?”

With that, he angrily sent another series of bolts at her from the back. Even with her hands free, Bai Qian was completely powerless against the merciless pain that was driving down her every bone, up her head, almost blinding her. Everything was spinning and becoming foggy.

“Beg,” Qingcang’s poisonous voice echoed as she felt herself being pulled up again. “Beg and I may stop.”

Bai Qian’s jaw clenched. She wanted to beg. She wanted this to be over with. Perhaps death would be mercy compared to this suffering. But she was not going to give Qingcang the satisfaction. If her seniors could survive lightning, so could she. Lingyu had never begged, neither would Moyuan.

“Ah, of course,” he smiled, shaking his head, “how foolish of me to expect Moyuan’s disciple to beg.”

For a long moments, Qingcang hungrily stared at her face. “Are you thinking of that arrogant bastard?” he asked, his lips curling. “We have that in common, I admit. How I long to pay him a visit, to tell him how I have escaped from the Bell they all thought so secure - the incompetents.”

Qingcang flicked his hand, which made Bai Qian drop to the ground, still trying to regain her powers to self-heal. But it was useless.

“Where is that wretched fan of hers!” Qingcang roared to his subordinates after he had put a stop to the lightning, “this is too easy... I am getting bored!”

Moments later, the Kunlun fan landed on the ground next to Bai Qian. She knew even with the fan, this would be hopeless. Qingcang was only playing with his prey before the finish. What could her Kunlun fan do against the Double Crescent Halberb that knew no opponent except Xuanyuan and Chang’he?

Bai Qian grabbed the fan nonetheless, scrambled to her feet, yet while doing so, she thought she had seen Lijing’s fingers unfurl, held up in the direction of the forest of trees behind them. But before Bai Qian could work out what he was trying to do, a loud explosion caused her to duck and cover her face. Dust, leaves, and other debris showered the area. Bai Qian opened her eyes to see the ghost assassins breaking lines and looking around, bewildered, swords and whips at the ready. But the commotion quickly subsided. Qingcang turned around at Lijing, who was on his knees with his arm held up.

With a violent strike of the halberd, Qingcang conjured a wave of powerful force that sent Lijing up in mid air and slammed him into the nearest tree. His lifeless body hit the ground as the assassins roared in laughter. Bai Qian’s eyes opened wide, trying to deny what they were seeing. Yet, it did not look like Lijing would get up again. Ever.

Every fiber of her body was screaming in terror as Qingcang extended his arm toward Lijing. Something that looked like a shimmering black pearl flew from him and into Qingcang’s hand. As much as Bai Qian wished what she was seeing wasn't true, she knew it could not be undone - one more of Ghost Lord Qingcang’s children was dead. And he was becoming stronger.

Amidst the fear that was making her whole body numb, Bai Qian suddenly understood as she was beginning to feel strength slowly coming back to her - was not merely an explosion that had happened.

She knew they would not have long before Qingcang turned his attention back to her and before his assassins became aware their enchantments to prevent cloud jumping had been deactivated.

“Yanzhi… Sixteenth Senior...” she desperately murmured.

Straining her ears, Bai Qian could hear the sound of someone flying towards her from behind. She sprang up from the ground, summoned her fan with one hand and caught Yanzhi’s arm with the other. Black smoke swirling around them as they and Zilan vanished from the scene.

Only seconds later, a deafening bang caused them to lose balance and fall from the sky and flat on their faces. They all quickly got up on their feet to make sure they were not being followed.

“Crimson fire,” Zilan’s voice was cracking as they stared at the red sky in the direction of Ruoshui river.

“The bell?” whispered Yanzhi, fresh tears still rolling down her face.

Chapter 8