Fanfiction 2: Moyuan and Bai Qian - Chapter 10, Part 2 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 10 - The Fox Empress, Part 2

written by LalaLoop
consulting by Juls and MiniOrchid
edited by kakashi

Zheyan’s potion was so effective that Bai Qian dreamed of almost nothing that night, which she was deeply thankful for - she was in no hurry to relive Lijing’s death or the terrifying evening with the Bell of Donghuang.

It was perhaps several hours after Bai Qian had fallen asleep that she heard some soft noises around her room. Half opening her eyes, everything was quite hazy.

Someone quietly sat down on the bed. She felt the warm touch of a gentle hand on her hair.

Bai Qian slightly gasped, she encircled the pillow under her head and brought it with her as she leapt onto the person’s lap, her eyes shut tightly again.

“Mom, you’re back…”

She shifted her head on the pillow, waiting for her mother to say something in her soft, velvet voice as usual. But there was no answer, only a sigh and what felt like an attempt to move her back onto the bed. How very odd.

But Bai Qian decided she did not care. She felt extraordinarily safe.

And before she knew it, she had fallen back into a dreamless sleep.

...

When Bai Qian woke up the next day, her headache was almost gone, though her arms and legs still felt quite heavy. She sat up with difficulty, rubbed her eyes, looked out the window, then around the room. It seemed to be late in the morning, she noticed. Fully awake, the image of Lijing lying on the forest floor once again flashed through her mind, reminding her of how just a few months ago, she had been wishing she’d never have to see his face again. Bai Qian shook her head violently, trying to scare the image away. Then, she thought of Yanzhi - they hadn’t met since she and Zilan had come back from Ruoshui River.

Yanzhi, Sixteenth Senior, Fengjiu, Yehua, Shifu - how are they all? She quickly pulled on her boots, hoisted herself up from the bed and started to fix her hair and robes, hoping she had not been asleep for too long since she had lost track of time after she’d swallowed down Zheyan’s potion.

There was some gentle knocking on the door and to Bai Qian’s relief, it was Zilan’s rather small voice on the other side, sounding as if he thought she was still asleep.

“Come in,” said Bai Qian.

The door opened and in walked her Sixteenth Senior with yet another goblet in his hand, which Bai Qian suspected was more medicine she’d have to take. , He looked much better than last night, though Bai Qian could see several scratches on his face and the back of his palm.

“How long have I been asleep?” she asked right away.

“Not that long,” said Zilan, putting the goblet down on the table, rubbing his sword arm. “I just got up a few hours ago myself. You can go back to sleep if you want to. But High God Zheyan said you’d have to drink that first.”

“I’m not sleepy anymore,” said Bai Qian as she walked over to pick up the goblet. The medicine wasn’t as bitter as she’d feared. “Where’s Yanzhi? And my niece, is she up yet?” Bai Qian asked impatiently. And before Zilan could answer, more questions came out of her. “Has Lord Donghua been here? Zheyan said he’d be here to tell us about the Crown Prince?”

“Well…”

“Shifu, too. How’s Shifu?”

“Calm down,” Zilan raised his arms, looking quite amused, “What do you want to hear first?”

“The Crown Prince,” said Bai Qian instantly.

“Lord Donghua did come briefly to visit Shifu. But he and High God Zheyan just left for the Nine Heavens. High God Zheyan said he’d talk to you more when he’s back. He also said you shouldn’t go to the Nine Heavens just yet, it’s already crowded enough there.”

Bai Qian nodded, “is Fengjiu all right?”

“Oh, she is,” Zilan sat down at the table. “She’s not awake yet, but there doesn’t seem to be any complication. I think Lord Donghua saw her too. High God Bai Zhen is there with her now, I think.”

“I see,” said Bai Qian. “Where’s Yanzhi?”

Zilan’s face darkened. “She’s in her room and -- er -- not speaking to me.”

Bai Qian’s eyes narrowed, boring into Zilan’s. What had he done this time?

“She’s not angry with me,” said Zilan with a jerk of his head. “It’s more about…”

“Her brother,” Bai Qian finished for him after the uncomfortable pause.

“I told her she couldn’t leave Kunlun yet - It’s still dangerous out there. And who knows, she might even get hurt by those mad and suicidal assassins.”

“You’re right,” Bai Qian bit her lip. “She can’t leave yet.”

“And of course, Shifu’s in meditation.”

“Already?” Bai Qian tilted her head, a strange feeling gushing up inside her.

“It couldn’t be delayed any longer. And I can believe that. I was surprised that he could even walk to the meditation room at all. I’m telling you --” Zilan swallowed “-- that exhibition at Ruoshui River was mad. Like Senior said - he could have died.”

“What can we do.” Bai Qian chuckled and looked down at the ground. “He’s always been a little… unpredictable.”

“Right,” Zilan’s head bobbled. “Being the God of War and all.”

“Now, I don’t know how the Crown Prince is handling it,” Zilan exhaled and continued while Bai Qian shook her head. “He transformed too.”

“The Crown Prince,” Bai Qian looked up at the ceiling, trying to remember what she had read a long time ago. “I’m not sure. But according to what’s written about transformation - a strong and uncontrollable source of power that struggles to be unleashed can also force transformation. And that’s what Zheyan said: there was a foreign force at work.”

“I see,” Zilan was looking nervous. “I hope they’ll be able to sort it out.”

“Luckily they have the Medicine King and Lord Donghua and many physicians in the Nine Heavens.”

They both said nothing for a brief while, then Bai Qian suddenly remembered.

“How long do you reckon it’ll be?” She asked. “The meditation.”

“High God Zheyan said he will have to remain in the meditation room for as long as a fortnight with no interruption.”

“That’s not very long,” Bai Qian shrugged. “We’ll see him again soon.”

Since Bai Qian could not see Yehua or Moyuan at the moment, after her talk with Zilan, they quickly went to Fengjiu’s room. To her disappointment, the little fox was still not awake, though the colors had returned to her face. Closing her bedroom door, Bai Zhen assured them her condition had significantly improved.

Bai Qian and Zilan then made their way to the kitchen, where they hoped Changshan would have prepared some food. Which he had. After being scolded by their Second Senior for running around while they were still recovering and told that he would have sent food to their rooms anyway, they were each given a plate full of their favorites.

Then, sitting down at the table in the kitchen, they continued their talk about the battle and how they both had thought Kunlun had nearly become masterless once again.



“Xiaowu,” Zheyan gestured her to come to him when she was about to join Diefeng and Changshan in the hall.

It was days after the battle. Despite Zilan’s protest, Yanzhi had decided to make a trip to the Ghost realm to make sure her niece and Qilin were safe. Left without a choice, Zilan had asked to accompany her, an offer Yanzhi had reluctantly accepted after several attempts to put an end to his speech of gallantry. And they all agreed to meet back at Kunlun after a couple of days.

The Old Phoenix and Donghua had finally returned from the Nine Heavens and had told them as much as they knew about Yehua’s condition. Lady Lexu, almost driven mad by worry, was said to have remained by her son’s side for the last few days with no intention of leaving. This, Bai Qian took notice, would make it difficult if she wanted to visit Yehua.

In addition, Zheyan and Donghua had also assured her a visit at this time would be pointless since Yehua was more or less unconscious. And when he would wake, he too would likely have to begin meditation right away. Because of this, Bai Qian decided to remain at Kunlun with her Seniors for the time being and wait for Zilan to come back from his trip. Meanwhile, she had also returned to Qingqiu and was quite pleased to see her mother there to comfort a still heartbroken Fengjiu. The little fox took this opportunity to cry like she never had before and spilled out many horrible names she had thought up for the Rock of Reincarnation.

“There’s something I need to ask you,” began Zheyan when Bai Qian had taken her seat at his table in the hall.

Bai Qian nodded and helped herself to some tea Changshan had put out.

“Well,” the Old Phoenix’ voice was teasing. “Just like how you always come to pester me whenever you want information about your Shifu. He, too, has asked me a few times about -- your eyes.”

“My eyes?” Bai Qian exclaimed. Besides Zheyan, whom she had truthfully told about her trial, there was only the Star Lord who knew, and Donghua, who was aware of her trial due to his presence in the Nine Heaven at the time, she did not remember telling anyone else about it. “How does he know?”

“He doesn’t know anything,” Zheyan assured. “But the white silk you have over your eyes is quite detectable for someone with advanced magics. Therefore,” he took a sip of his tea, “it has come up once or twice in conversation.”

Bai Qian reached up to touch her eyes. “How long will I have to wear it, anyway? You said I could take it off soon.”

“Very soon, your eyes are getting better. They’re almost back to normal. But the point is, if Moyuan or your parents should ask me again, what would you like me to tell them?”

“Tell them it’s a result of a trial,” said Bai Qian with a puzzled smile. She wondered why the Old Phoenix was making this sound more complicated that it was. “Which I’m sure they already know.”

“Of course,” Zheyan nodded. “Of course it is. We’ve all taken trials; we know how they work. Moyuan is just a little concerned about your eyes, that is all. And he’s very keen on knowing what has happened that brought such damage...”

“I don’t mind anyone knowing what happened,” Bai Qian interrupted. “But this is not about me,” she leaned closer to the table. “Let me ask you this,” she paused, contemplating. “Would you tell Shifu that it’s Yehua who’s responsible for the horrid incident with my eyes?”

Zheyan’s brows furrowed for a brief second.

“I see,” he said, rubbing his forehead.

“Yes, exactly,” Bai Qian sat back properly on her cushion. “Shifu has been waiting to meet Yehua for ages. When they see each other, let them talk about something other than me and a silly trial that can’t be undone.”

“You know,” Zheyan chuckled, giving Bai Qian a mysterious look. “You are generally -- very thoughtful.”

“Well,” Bai Qian smiled proudly at the compliment. “If I was still the Xiaowu who let other people take care of me, or deal with my trials,” she said through her teeth, “then I wouldn’t deserve my title as a High Goddess, would I?”

“You still feel uneasy about how Moyuan has taken your first trial, I see,” Zheyan laughed.

At this time, they saw Donghua walking over to them as Diefeng and Changshan got up and bended down in a bow. The silver-haired god blankly gestured them to sit down and made himself comfortable at a table next to Zheyan’s. Seeing that Bai Qian was about to stand up, Donghua held up a hand and nodded blankly. She sank back down. It was possible that he had heard her recent remarks.

“Wouldn’t you?” She turned back at Zheyan. “As grateful as I am, I always feel there's bound to be some --” Bai Qian swallowed, “-- consequences.”

“Ah,” Zheyan nodded.

“And I really think there should be,” said Bai Qian flatly.

The Old Phoenix said nothing, his finger softly tapping the teacup.

“High Goddess Bai Shi,” said Changshan and Diefeng’s voice suddenly behind them. Bai Qian turned to see they both had stood and bowed to her mother, who was approaching their table.

“Please, sit,” the Fox Empress smiled at them and waved her hand to tell them to resume their activities as she herself sat down next to Bai Qian.

“Well,” she said, returning Donghua and Zheyan’s nods of greeting and looking around at them. “I will have to go back tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” Bai Qian’s eyes widened. “So soon?”

“Why, yes,” the Fox Empress sighed.

“But it’s been a long time since we last saw you,” Bai Qian pouted. “Fourth Brother and I had hoped you’d stay a bit longer.”

Bai Shi softly chuckled, her hand reached forward to accept the cup of tea Zheyan was offering.

“We might not have to say goodbye after all because I have an excellent idea,” she said, her eyes beaming. Bai Qian turned to look at her with excitement. “I want you to come with me.”

“Come with you?” said Bai Qian in utter surprise. “To your manor?”

“No, a bit further, dear, the Eastern Forest.”

Diefeng and Changshan turned around at their table. Both were looking excited and curious at the mention of the location.

“The Eastern Forest?”

“Yes, that’s where we spend most of our time now, not the manor near your Da-ge’s. You haven’t had the time to visit us since we left Qingqiu with all the things you're having to do and the misfortunes that have happened. Your father has expressed his wish to see you and Zhenzhen just a few days before I left.”

“Well, it’s a long way from…”

“It’s a long way in the far East, I know,” the Fox Empresses finished for her. “So, what do you say, you come and stay with us for -- hmm -- a few months?”

At this, Bai Qian saw Zheyan’s suddenly look up and stop drinking his tea, a curious smile appearing on his face.

“What will I do there?” asked Bai Qian, not too convinced whether she should agree to this plan.

“What a question!” exclaimed Bai Shi. “There will be plenty of things for you to do. I assure you - you will not regret it once you get there. For a start, if you’re unwilling to give yourself a break, your father and I can offer you our consultant on governance, answer any questions you have, discuss any plan you have for the future.”

“And,” The Fox Empress’ eyes beamed. “I think the Eastern Forest will be a remarkable change of environment - that is exactly what you need. Admit it, you’ve stayed at Qingqiu quite long enough. You don’t want to go back there now and surround yourself with books and reports and documents so soon. Don’t you want to see what we have in the East? All kinds of plants and fantastical creatures you’ve only heard about in lectures. Even more spectacular than the Crystal Palace, I daresay.”

Bai Qian’s brows furrowed. Due to the aftermath of the battle of the Bell seventy thousand years ago, she had never once left Qingqiu to visit her parents’ new home in the East. Knowing her well, they hadn’t urged her to do so either. Yet her mother’s enthusiastic invitation this time, with all the possibilities of the things she could see and do there, had heightened her curiosity to the utmost.

“I think that would be marvelous, High Goddess” said Donghua, looking at Bai Qian, while Zheyan threw him a look of sort. “I have only been to the Eastern Forest a few times. Despite my wanting to revisit, I simply have not found the time yet. And the distance is very discouraging.”

“You’d always be welcome at our home, Lord Donghua, when you do find the time,” said the Fox Empress with a slight bow of her head before looking back at Bai Qian. “Well, what do you think, Xiaowu? A few months at the Eastern Forest. Hmm?” She held up her forefinger, “I seem to remember that we have visited each one of you several times. But you’ve never visited us. Where’s the fairness in that?”

Bai Qian’s head dropped as she quietly laughed.

“Also,” the Fox Empress continued. “I can use your help with something your father and I are organizing.”

“I thought you said Dad was in mediation.”

“He is. He is currently at the manor. But he will resume assisting me when he gets out of meditation, which will be very soon I believe.”

“What is it that you’re organizing?” asked Bai Qian curiously.

“I can’t tell you yet,” the Fox Empress’ upper lip curled mysteriously. “You’ll know when you get there.”

Bai Qian did not answer but turned to look up at the empty dais for a moment while her mother was keeping her eyes on her own tea cup. Though when Bai Qian turned her attention back to the table, her mother was wearing a bemused smile and a look that indicated she was waiting for an answer.

“A few months? That is --” spoke Zheyan before Bai Qian could reply, sipping his tea, “-- a long time.”

“A long time?” asked Bai Shi with a slight movement of her brow. “In what sense?”

“The Eastern Forest is pretty far away Zheyan,” Bai Qian helped herself to some sweets from the table. “You don’t want to go there and stay for just a week or so. It’d be a waste of time and effort.”

“Very true,” Donghua said. “If you’re going to make the trip, you might as well stay and make sure you explore every corner of the land to make it worth your effort. The trip itself would take several days unless you cloud-jump all the way.”

“Of course I know that,” Zheyan shrugged. “It’s one of the reasons why I’ve only visited once since Bai Zhi and you left Qingqiu, Shishi.”

“What about Qingqiu?” Bai Qian suddenly remembered. “Someone needs to be in charge.”

“Migu has just received word from your Second Brother. He will be coming to look after Fengjiu at Qingqiu. In the meantime, he can also take care of Qingqiu’s affairs for you. He won’t mind. And if Fengjiu would like to join us, I can ask Zhenzhen to bring her later, when she's fully recovered.”

“Does Moyuan know?” said Zheyan at last, pouring himself more tea.

“Moyuan?” Bai Shi’s eyes narrowed for a moment but then she smiled again, speaking in her gentlest voice. “I only saw High God Moyuan briefly before he went into meditation. And I haven’t had the chance to speak with him, as you very well know. But I’m sure he won’t object. There’s absolutely nothing to lose from this trip. If not to say it would be a perfect opportunity for her education. And that is what he should care about.” Bai Shi turned to Bai Qian and laughed gently. Bai Qian couldn’t help but laugh along at the joke.

“What do you look so worried about, Old Phoenix?” asked Bai Shi, adjusting her expression when she saw sincere concern on Zheyan’s face.

“Hmm --,” Zheyan furrowed his brows, looking straight at Bai Qian.

“Zheyan means that Shifu -- er --,” Bai Qian began awkwardly, “-- might be a bit surprised if he doesn’t find me here or at Qingqiu when he comes out of meditation.”

“Ah,” the Fox Empress nodded. “Well, I shouldn’t think it necessary but I can leave Moyuan a letter explaining in detail where his disciple has gone if that is the problem.”

“But he is -- well --,” Zheyan made slightly tilted his head, trying to find the right words.

Bai Shi reached across the table for the teapot and poured some more tea into her cup, looking stern with her lips curved into a perplexed smile, her elegantly arched brows raising. She said without looking up, “does this have to do with High God Moyuan’s current state of health?”

“Yes,” said Zheyan and Bai Qian at once, though the sound that came from her was more of a mumble.

“I see,” said Bai Shi. “But Zilan, Diefeng and Changshan are very attentive. They will tend to him well. And if I’m right, his other twelve disciples must be rushing to Kunlun as we speak. Surely --” said the Fox Empress to Zheyan in her silkiest voice and there was a sudden change in her tone. She was now looking quite intensely into Zheyan’s eyes, speaking each word clearly, “-- Moyuan can survive a few short months without her here, can he not?”

There was a short silence. The look in her mother’s eyes made Bai Qian pray Zheyan would not say anything else. She wasn't sure why the Old Phoenix was still wanting to argue. If her mother had spoken to her in such a tone, she would have kept her mouth shut and done whatever she’d been told to do. As kind and gentle as the Fox Empress generally was, Bai Qian knew she was not someone even Zheyan would want to irritate without a good reason. And perhaps the Old Phoenix’ vague remarks had started to make her impatient.

“I don’t see any reason why he cannot,” spoke Donghua suddenly, shrugging and admiring the teacup in his hand. Bai Shi and Zheyan instantly turned to look at him, and a quite satisfied and approving smile appeared on the former’s face. Bai Qian couldn’t deny she was thankful for Donghua’s interference. Though she could have sworn there was a look on his face that resembled the one he'd been wearing the day he’d come to Qingqiu to visit Fengjiu after she'd cut off her fox tail.

“And Zheyan is quite capable,” Donghua continued to Bai Qian, “he can manage everything here, High Goddess. And yes, there shouldn’t be anything Moyuan’s First and Second disciples cannot handle in the meantime.” He looked at Diefeng and Changshan, “am I right?”

“Yes, Lord Donghua,” answered Diefeng with a solemn bow. Bai Qian briefly saw Changshan tap on his shoulder from the back to get his attention. Though, when Diefeng turned around, he simply shook his head.

“What do you think, Xiaowu?” The Fox Empress leaned down towards Bai Qian, who couldn’t find any valid reason to refuse this invitation. It was true that a large part of her did not want to leave Kunlun just yet. But it was not like Moyuan would come out of meditation tomorrow. She might as well find something meaningful to do in the meantime. She had considered going back to Qingqiu and going through the documents, finding an opportunity to visit Yehua and A-li, and spending time with Yanzhi and Zilan. But since Yehua was still unconscious and Yanzhi had left for the Ghost realm, her mother's idea had obviously proved to be most appealing. Furthermore, Bai Qian thought, she could always go back any time she wanted to.

“I’ll come with you,” she said finally, grinning.

“Lovely,” said Bai Shi approvingly, her smile was back to pleasant again, as if to promise Bai Qian she would not regret her decision.

“I share your concern, Zheyan,” she said to the Old Phoenix in a questionable tone that made it hard to know her intention, gently putting her hand on Bai Qian’s shoulder. “But I believe High God Moyuan understands perfectly well that Xiaowu will not always be within his reach.”

Zheyan quietly nodded, a smile from him dissolved the last of the tension between them.

The rest of the evening was filled with the Fox Empress’ brilliant talks of the Eastern Forest, which Bai Qian and her seniors listened to with awe. During her time here, Bai Qian wondered why her mother hadn’t questioned her once about her engagement with the Crown Prince. But, too absorbed in her anticipation about the trip, she decided to leave that till later.