Fanfiction 2: Moyuan and Bai Qian - Chapter 16.5 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 16.5 - Scars

written by LalaLoop
edited by kakashi

“How on earth...” stuttered Bai Qian. But she did not have long to wonder - panic had started to break out among the mortals.

Bai Qian, Zilan, and Changshan were standing opposite of a Kirin, which she had recognized with no difficulty as one of the untamed beasts they had been previously introduced to during one of their visits to Lingbao Tianzun’s place, one he had called a ‘fire Kirin’ and had been training to become his mount.

Right now, it was thumping its feet before them. Bai Qian doubted it was right to call the thing a Kirin for it was the most hideous looking creature she had ever seen in her life. And different from the the Lord of Numerous Treasures’ Fire Phoenix, which always shimmered with flames, this creature looked more like it had been born from a rock. Its whole body looked like a boulder on not like that of a mount someone could sit on. Its unihorn, which was the unique feature of all Kirins was bulky, asymmetrical, and looked like something used to dig holes with. Rocky spikes protruded from its four legs and lined its back, which once again made Bai Qian wonder who could mount something like this. Its legs were long and its claws were large and sharp, its yellow eyes bulging, two pointy spikes that did not look like they belonged anywhere sticking out from underneath its jaw.

It wasn’t that she, her Fourth Brother and Zilan hadn’t encountered wild beasts before when they travelled to the mortal realms. They had ran across and chased away many. But today, they were not particularly in a mood for a fight. They, along with Changshan, had decided to visit the mortal realm for some peace and quiet and had been hoping to just sit and talk in the old teahouse.

Yet now they were face-to-face with a mountainous and dangerous-looking beast, a fight was in order, which meant that very soon a celestial official would pay them a visit to ask why they had used magic in the mortal realm, and then there would be tedious and repetitive explaining to do.

But as Bai Qian looked at the creature in front of them and took in its features, she soon forgot about those inconveniences. The beast looked dangerous and its size told her they were going to have to take it seriously.

Without warning, the Kirin charged at them. Its roar thundered across the area. And right away, Bai Qian understood why it was called the fire Kirin - crimson lines appeared on its skin and jets of flames shot out of its fanged mouth like arrows. They dived in different directions to avoid being hit.

“On the count of three,” shouted Changshan. Bai Qian was also going to remind them to use a spell to knock the beast unconscious but not kill it since he wasn’t sure how Lingbao Tianzun would react if he found his mount dead or severely maimed. But on second thought, that wasn’t necessary since she was not sure if even the strongest spell they could conjure would be able to scratch its skin. And protecting the mortals was the priority after all.

All of them raised their weapons. Three fiery jets of light shot at the beast. Their spells had weakened it, though weren’t nearly enough to render it unconscious. Bai Qian’s spell barely missed the Kirin's eye, making it yowl in rage and seemingly become more savage.

“We have to get it out of the mortal realm first,” Zilan breathed. He darted around and in a flash, conjured more shields around them, throwing the nearest mortals away from the site and prevented the lurking ones from coming any closer.

Without hesitation, Bai Qian shot up and landed on the roof of the teahouse. Drawing in a deep breath, she jumped onto the back of the Kirin’s neck, grabbing onto its horn. Then, she whipped around and slashed her fan. The spell hit it on the back and was enough to get its attention. Screeching in rage, the Kirin thumped its feet and launched itself upward, its mouldy wings beating against the air.

Since Bai Qian could do absolutely nothing to steer it in the direction she wanted and she doubted the Kirin had a destination in mind, she quickly summoned her fan gathered power to transform it. But her attempt was prevented when the Kirin abruptly shook its giant body. The fan flew out of her hand as she frantically grabbed onto the creature's horn again and disappeared into the clouds below.

Sensing someone’s presence on its neck, the Kirin shook violently, forcing her to clutch the horn with both hands.

“Seventeenth!” Zilan’s voice came from somewhere behind. Looking over her shoulder, she saw Zilan was catching up on his sword, his hand stretched out.

Bai Qian extended her arm when they were side by side and caught Zilan’s by his wrist. Letting go of the Kirin’s horn, and with Zilan’s help, she climbed up onto his sword. Though this must have been their unlucky day: the moment Bai Qian could stand up straight, the Kirin turned and shot a flame in their direction. Unprepared, both of them stumbled and fell off the sword.

Falling through layers of myst, Bai Qian frantically concentrated to cloud-jump. Qingqiu, she closed her eyes. When she opened them again, there was only clouds and mist. Kunlun’s gate… white mist still surrounded her. Peach Blossom gardenRuoshui River… Bai Qian tried every location she could think of that cloud-jumping allowed, but it was no use.

Someone caught her by the waist, silver smoke swirled around and in a flash she found herself facing Zilan. The person who was holding her grabbed Zilan’s shoulder. More smoke materialized and the next thing Bai Qian knew, she was lying face down on a forest ground.

“Thank you, Second Senior,” said Zilan’s voice.

“The first time I agreed to travel to the mortal realm with you two and it had to turn out like this,” Changshan did not sound pleased. He let go of Bai Qian and helped her up as she and Zilan looked around for their fan and sword.

“Where is the Whisperer when we need her?” he hissed to Zilan. And Bai Qian too dearly wished Yanzhi could have been here. Having been raised in the Ghost realm near a forest full of mystical and dark creatures, Yanzhi was far better than any of them in handling untamed beasts.

But as soon as they staggered to their feet and before any word could be exchanged, the Kirin once again shook the ground with its appearance. The creature shot itself in front of them, baring its teeth. Its short breaths and distorted curve of the mouth indicated they were at its mercy. They all exchanged desperate looks, instantly elevated themselves from the ground and whipped around, giving up on the idea of finding the fan and Zilan’s sword for the time being.

But it happened in the blink of an eye before they could get far. The Kirin shot out its enormous forefoot and Bai Qian heard herself scream as she was slammed to one side. Her back hit something rigid and she dropped to the ground, her forehead pricked by something sharp. Blood drenched her side where the Kirin’s talons had scratched her. Hot pain started to spread from the wounds.

She could hear footsteps, new voices and shooting sounds above. She tried to get up, but her limbs would not obey.

Another second passed and Zilan’s face was hovering above her.


She felt his hands on her shoulders, lifting her up from the ground, his voice repeated her name several times. But her vision started to dim, his figure blurred into the spinning background and it all became dark.


Something was glittering within arm’s length, Bai Qian reached upward to try and catch it, but her hand was caught into someone else’ and placed back down by her side. The same hand, gentle and cautious, stroked her forehead a few times. There was a tingling pain on her forehead where the person’s fingers had brushed over. She raised her hand but it was again caught and set down. Then, she felt something warm and rather heavy being placed upon her and before she knew it, she was deep in sleep once more.

When she opened her eyes again, her wounds were not hurting too much anymore.

Bai Qian rubbed her eyes and looked around. She was lying on the bed separated from the rest of the place by a bead curtain. There was a faint scent of peach blossoms in the air around. Zheyan’s hut, she finally caught up. Sitting at the table behind the curtain were her two Seniors, the fan of Kunlun next to her pillow on the bed.

Slowly she sat up, put on her shoes, deeply thankful to whoever had put a mirror on the table nearby. She grabbed it and quickly examined her face. To her relief, besides the two stitches on her forehead, she looked wonderfly normal with no major injuries. With that, Bai Qian rose, quickly fixed her hair and stumbled her way out of bed.

“Are you sure you don’t want to keep lying down?” Changshan folded his arm in a prudent manner as she came out. Zilan snifled in agreement.

Bai Qian shook her head. “How long have I been unconscious?”

“Not long,” he answered, handing her a smoking goblet when she had reached the table. “Just a few hours.”

She did not bother to ask what was in the goblet, but simply drained it as quickly as she could and sat down with them. Seeing some bandages on Zilan’s hand and stitches on Changshan’s face, she asked, “who treated us?”

“Lingbao Tianzun’s physician,” said Zilan.

“Not Zheyan?”

Zilan shook his head. “We came here because it was closest to the forest where the Kirin dropped us. Your brother let us in.”

“The Kirin!” she gasped as the memory shot back into her mind. “Did anyone… what happened to it!”

“Calm down, you’re a little behind with your information,” Zilan grimaced. “Lingbao Tianzun and Shifu took care of it.”

“Shifu’s in meditation,” said Bai Qian, the corner of her eyes wrinkled.

“Not anymore,” Zilan. “I heard he finished with meditation when we were still in the mortal realm and he was ready to help Lingbao Tianzun with the hunt for the beast.”

Bai Qian could not hide her smile. It had been several months since she had last seen Moyuan in person. But the smile quickly faded. If he had come to the scene with Lingbao Tianzun, then he must have seen the state of her after the Kirin had blasted her and Zilan off his sword. Feeling a lecture about safety coming her way, Bai Qian grunted. But she cheered up again a moment later - If Moyuan was done with meditation, there was a chance that Zheyan too had come out from his meditation cave.

“How did it escape to the mortal realm?” she changed the subject. “The Kirin.”

“How all beasts and mounts usually escape to cause havoc,” said Changshan, “because of the caretaker’s lack of attention, of course. It was Lingbao Tianzun’s warden’s fault. It had been running through the Ghost realm’s forest for several days before it got to the Mortal realm. They’d been looking for it.”

“Luckily no mortal in the area was harmed,” Zilan remarked with a proud grin, massaging his own shoulder. “We didn’t do too badly, did we?”

As Bai Qian reached to the teapot to get herself sometea, she suddenly noticed her bare wrist. “Where’s my…”

“Are you looking for the piece of cloth with the messy embroidery?” asked Zilan enthusiastically.

Bai Qian frowned at the remark. But when she was just about to correct him, Changshan beat her to it.

“It’s not a piece of cloth,” he said through gritted teeth. “It’s a handkerchief. And the ‘messy embroidery’ you’re referring too is supposed to be a scene of falling snow.”

While Bai Qian agreed with Changshan, she could not help gaping at him and his defending her accessory with huge eyes. Zilan seemed to share her sentiment. Changshan, however, was now looking back at Bai Qian as though she had stolen something from Kunlun.

“Anyway,” he continued to Bai Qian, his voice slow and steady. “It was really dirty and your blood got all over it so your niece took it off when she was here to wash it.”

“Oh,” she nodded. But his searching stare was starting to make her wonder what was on his mind.

“Hmm, strange,” Changshan rested his chin on his fist.

“What?” Bai Qian looked up at him briefly while adjusting her sleeves.

“They say all nine-tailed foxes are natural temptresses.”


“You don't look like one to me.”

Bai Qian eyes became slits while Zilan quietly sniggered.

“Have you ever used that famous love potion on anyone?” Changshan leaned even closer to her side, his eyes glittered in jest. “Anyone…” he hummed, “...lately?”

“No,” Bai Qian scowled, swallowing down her urge to throw something at him. He knows... she squinted. But deciding to brush off the subject, she raised her hand, the fan of Kunlun flew from the bed and into her grip. “But I’ve learned to cast a love spell. Should we try it on you, see what happens…”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Changshan jerked back, eyeing her fan. “It’s against the law.”

“Whose law?” Bai Qian sprang up and so did her Second Senior, who clearly knew she would never cast a love spell for real but still wanted to see what she intended to do instead.

Zilan too leapt up with an anticipated grin a second later.

“You think I wouldn’t be able to block your spell, whatever it is?” Changshan said softly, gathering his sword and brought it close to Bai Qian’s fan in a feigned threatening manner.

“Let’s go outside and duel then. We’ll know if you can block it or not.”

“This I will have to see,” Zilan laughed.

But the sound of someone entering the hut made all three of them freeze and suspend their act of mischief. Changshan and Bai Qian turned to the door with their weapons still pointed at one another and saw Moyuan at the threshold.

Zilan looked as if a banquet they were about to attend had been cancelled, and Changshan, hard as he tried to maintain the senior-disciple expression, could not conceal the disappointment on his face, either.

Without waiting for Moyuan to ask what was going on, they lowered their weapons. Changshan threw a look of ‘next time’ in Bai Qian’s direction before walking away, which she responded to with a challenging jerk of her head. At the doorstep, her two Seniors bowed to their Shifu and quickly exited.

Overwhelmed to see Moyuan standing just a few feet in front of her, Bai Qian became tongue-tied. His face was no longer pale. An aura of power shimmered around him, just like the way he had looked before the Great battle.

The short silence wasn’t too uncomfortable because she knew what he was looking at. He had always had the habit of scanning her for injuries, or in this case, checking on healing ones. The concerned and slightly vexed expression told Bai Qian she was not going to be praised for having climbed on an untamed fire-breathing Kirin and flown a distance on its back.

“How are they?” he asked. “The injuries.”

Bai Qian could not deny she was glad to hear his deep voice again after months, even if it didn’t sound pleased.

“They’re nothing,” she answered. Being treated like an indoor princess who could not do so much as lift a cup of tea always bothered her. “Really. I'm only sorry I didn't get a chance to thank Lingbao Tianzun’s physician.”

“How many times do I have to say this to you, Seventeenth,” he began. But Bai Qian quickly cut him off.

“It’s -- lovely to hear you say my name at the end of a sentence, Shifu,” she said, quickly looking away from his eyes.

“What?” he stepped closer, more astonished than offended at her remark. After several seconds spent to regain calmness, he continued, “now, listen to me. Your own safety may be a joke to you, but…”

“I’m all right,” she emphasized, trying to sound like their encounter with the Kirin was something that happened every other day. “We run into troubles like this all the time. Escaped beasts causing chaos in the mortal realm isn’t anything new. Honestly, Shifu, there’s nothing to worry about. My Seniors got injured as much as I did.”

Taking advantage of Moyuan’s silence, she went on. “You always think that I’m your responsibility. I’m not. Has it ever occured to you that your tendency to think of yourself as my shield could prevent me from ever going on a mission or fight alongside you in a war? How can two people work together to serve a greater cause if one is constantly worried about the safety of the other. And,” she stopped to catch her breath. “Since you're the one who never lets me get close whenever you're injured, Shifu, I'll take no criticism from you.”

“I’ll bear those words of gratitude in mind the next time your life is in danger,” he said silkily now that it was quite obvious she was well. “And rest assured, if we ever go on a mission or fight in a war together, I would treat you like the rest of my comrades, in accordance to your ability and position.“

“Thank you,” she exhaled. “Then, I’d be happy to listen to your lectures about general safety and do as assigned without any personal sentiments.”

“Really?” his head tilted.


“Without personal sentiments?”


“If there came a time when I asked you to abandon me and go on alone with the particular mission because it was the only way, would you be able to carry out the deed?”

Bai Qian grimaced at the dark tone that made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. The way he spoke, she grunted, one would think the world was going to end tomorrow. And right now, he looked like… she slightly shuddered… like Zheyan - the Zheyan she had seen sitting in Yanhua cave with his wine jar.

“Yes, I suppose,” she answered with a shrug.

“Good, I’ll hold you to your words.”

The air became tense all of a sudden. Then Moyuan spoke again.

“Putting all that aside, please be careful next time,” he paused to look at her, then stepped closer and continued, a crease between his brows. “You know why I’m worried, don’t you?”

Bai Qian wanted to answer immediately that she knew. But she couldn’t resist taking the moment to study by heart the face that was lined with concern, something she knew would not be likely to surface again anytime soon.

Moyuan exhaled in frustration at her silence and somewhat impish smile. His arms made a sudden movement that caused the memory of their time in the hall to flood Bai Qian’s mind for a split-second. But he simply shook his head.

“Don’t be a bully,” he said calmly, his arms folded.

Bai Qian’s eyes widened. “A bully…?” she mumbled.

“You’ve always been such a bully, Seventeenth,” he continued, serenity restored on his face. “Especially after you’ve discovered the truth. You take my interest for granted. You think that no matter how long you leave Kunlun, I would always be there waiting. You think my affection will never wear out; you think it is an old book that’s always going to lie in the corner of your bookshelf, desperate for your attention. And when you’re done with the last page you could shove it back into the dust.”

“I don’t think that,” said Bai Qian, though she admitted the thought had crossed mind once or twice. But then she quickly stopped counting the number of times she had allegedly mistreated him and turned her attention to something else.

“Can it wear out?” she asked with honest curiosity.

“Ah,” he pondered. “If you think I would give you information that you might use against me in the future, then you don’t know me at all.”

But you just gave it to me, thought Bai Qian with a wide grin. And Moyuan, who seemed to have noticed her barely veiled satisfied expression, responded with a hopeless sigh.

But he suddenly took a step away from her, the crease on his forehead deepened. A small grunting sound escaped him. Surely this wasn’t the result of her careless words and jokes, Bai Qian thought.

“Your scars?” she took a random guess and couldn’t deny she was surprised to see him nod instantly.

“Yes, I wasn’t supposed to engage in combat too soon. But I couldn’t help it,” he said, smiling bitterly. “Some of the healing scars might have not enjoyed the disturbance.”

Bai Qian nodded. And when she was about to ask if she should send for someone, Moyuan reached into his sleeve pocket and drew out a small vial.

“Would you mind?” he said, courteously gesturing toward the door.

“No, not at all,” replied Bai Qian. She strode over and shut the wooden door; then walked back and held out her hand.

But Moyuan’s expression was rather puzzled. For a moment, it looked as though he was about to say something more. But then he simply averted his eyes and handed her the vial. Bai Qian quickly rolled up her sleeves to her elbows and followed as he headed toward the room behind the bead curtain.

At the threshold, he lifted up the bead strings. She briefly turned up to look at him for a brief second then stepped through. The sound of the wooden beads clashing into each other when they were released sent a strange tingling sensation down her feet.

Bai Qian waited as he sat down on the bedside and took off the outer robe.

She sank on her knees and without thinking reached to his side where she unexpectedly met with his hand, which, after some hesitation, he moved out of her way.

But as soon as Moyuan retrieved his hand, her fingertips began to turn icy. And she was starting to understand his puzzled look earlier. With the vial tightly tucked at the heart of her palm, she found the knot that held the sash in place. Red on the forehead, she cautiously pulled on the strip; then took the robe by the lapel and pulled down the upper half.

Then there was the white garment, the sight of which reminded her of his time in Yanhua cave. She undid the white strings and airily tugged the lapel sideway. But it would not come off.

Move, thought Bai Qian airily as she prepared to yank on it again. But then it suddenly came to her. How many… Frustrated at her own stupidity and at the white robe for having more strings than necessary, she frowned, quickly reaching down further to untie the pair of strings she had missed.

Having avoided his eyes the whole time, Bai Qian could not be so sure what Moyuan was looking at, but she knew for certain there was nothing in Zheyan’s hut that would prove more interesting than the sight of someone who was having trouble with a task as simple as untying some strips on a robe.

But as the white garment came off his shoulders, Bai Qian wished she hadn’t removed it at all.

It was as if someone had just twisted her insides and set a fire underneath. The sight of the numerous scars stung her eyes, making her almost want to take a step back. Several scars were deep and did not look like they would ever heal. Some looked new - possibly from the latest battle with the former Ghost Lord. Some others looked to be on the verge of bleeding. Engraved in the middle was the long, deep one she had expected to see.

Bai Qian, who felt like this was more than she had volunteered for, took her eyes off of the scars and held up the little vial, hoping to see some instruction.

“One drop will do,” said Moyuan.

She removed the cork. And tilting the vial near his chest, Bai Qian carefully flicked her hand. One drop of the liquid escaped. As it reached the skin’s surface, the translucent drop turned into silver smoke, spreading to the scars in the vicinity. She patiently watched as the minor ones started to disappear completely. The others smoothened into a more pleasing state. At last, only the long scar remained.

“And…” she looked up at Moyuan. “One for the back?”

He nodded.

Bai Qian quickly moved to sit on the bedside behind him. Pulling the robes down deeper, she noticed the number of scars was no fewer than that of the front. The only thing better now was that she was no longer having to hide her crimson face.

Bai Qian placed one hand on his shoulder, her forefinger unconsciously tapping near the nape of his neck while waiting for the second drop to do its task.

She heard Moyuan drawing in a swift breath. Knowing what caused this reaction, she refrained herself from asking stupid questions like ‘did it hurt?’. She knew it had. She was so used to his silence in these situations that she almost expected him not to complain about the pain, almost as if she knew he wouldn’t be happy unless there was some silent suffering going on behind other people’s back.

When the silver smoke of the drop had dissolved. Bai Qian sat speechless for a long moment. Then, moving back to Moyuan’s front, she reached for the collar of the robe, wanting to ask if he needed help with the clothes but the words would not come out.

“I’ll do it,” he said, to Bai Qian’s great relief.

She stood up, walked through the bead curtain without bothering to lift them up, and headed out of the hut. Bai Qian decided, as she made her way down the steps, that she would gift the Old Phoenix with the finest wine of Qingqiu to thank him for the miraculous medicine he had managed to concoct.

It wasn’t long until Moyuan reappeared beside her again.

With a soft smile, he took each of her hands and rolled her long sleeves back to cover her arms. His posture reminded her of their brief conversation in the wine cellar. The tips of her ears felt hot at the memory, how she had hurled insults at the unfaltering wall of his affection, taken it for granted as she had his patience. A book indeed, one she thought would always be there every time she wanted it.

“But you know,” Bai Qian said suddenly, her voice a strange whisper. “I do think that your heart is a book.”

Moyuan looked up from her arms, his eyes narrowed, looking as if on the verge of laughter but rather interested to see what she would say next. Bai Qian retrieved her hands and put them behind her back, slightly leaning toward him.

“Do you know what I would do with a book I love too much that is not mine?”

“What?” he asked with a sigh and a hint of bitterness in his voice.

Bai Qian took another step closer, feeling as if she was standing on the edge of a waterfall with an urge to jump down.

“I would not bring it back. I would ask its owner to let me keep it.”

He remained silent. Without waiting for a reaction to emerge, she clutched onto his sleeves, drew closer and stepped on the tips of his boots to elevate herself. Then, tiptoeing as high as her feet could go, she kissed him on the brow.

Moyuan looked back at her with blank dark eyes. His expression was as unfazed as the ocean surface. But for once, she was not annoyed.

“Well then,” he took her face in his hands and looked at her straight in the eyes when she had stepped down. “Don’t tear the pages apart.”

“But… I can’t promise...” Bai Qian stuttered, making an effort to bend backward to put a distance between them, staring at him stupidly. And she started to speak, hoping to detain what she thought he was wanting to do, though for what reason, she could not decide. “If you read a book too many times, it’s bound to…”

He quietly chuckled, seemingly egging her on. But his intense gaze had robbed her of the ability to speak. And without warning - or perhaps there had been, but she was too absorbed with her reflection in his eyes to notice - he leaned down and kissed her near the eye.

“Get torn…” Bai Qian blinked a few times. Now she was completely out of things to say.

There was another chuckle. His hands still holding her face, the lines between his brows suddenly deepened, his expression rather guarded. It seemed he too was wanting to prolong the moment of anticipation.

Then, she saw his eyes gradually close, his face nearing. And it was useless to combat the nervous excitement that was enveloping her.

His lips, colder than she’d expected, pressed softly against hers. The touch was as light as air and so gentle she was afraid it might vanish any moment. But on her lips the gentleness lingered. The unspoken, unwavering desire for her companionship. A slight hint of possessiveness that was buried deep beneath the chivalry. Slowly it made her thoughts and surroundings drown away, evoking in her yearning and bewilderment. And she felt she herself might drown if he did not stop.

Yet she wasn’t sure she wanted to stop. Like a lost and clueless immortal who decided to cloud-jump without knowing the destination in advance and got caught between clouds as a result, she clung onto his robe for some sense of direction.

You don't close your eyes when you cloud-jump, Bai Qian inwardly shouted at herself when her eyelids began to droop, you might fall and not be able to get up again. But she yielded to the sentiment. Her eyes were soon closed and all that was left was the simplicity of the enchantment.

Then, as slowly as they had begun, they broke apart. Bai Qian immediately dropped her head. Not wanting to look at him, at least for another minute, she stared at his collar instead, rather ashamed to admit that it felt as though having been asked to step down from the cloud when she was just about to take off for a journey.

“Is it too presumptuous to assume that you will not leave my side from this day forth?” said the voice above her head.

Why he always chose such complicated ways to express the simplest things was beyond her.

“Before the Eastern Forest and Qingqiu receive any word from Kunlun?” she replied without looking up, matching that minute amount of arrogance in his tone she thought she had heard. “Yes, I’m afraid it is.”

“I see,” he chucked. “I will only ask one thing then.”

Bai Qian looked up at the piercing dark eyes as he smiled down. Warmth travelled through her body and reflected on her cheeks.

“The next time you plan a visit to the mortal realm. That is,” his tone was utterly polite but with a small hint of tease, his arms behind his back, “if you would allow me to take Zilan’s place, I’d be honored to accompany you.”

Zilan’s face swam before Bai Qian’s eyes - how pleased he would be to hear this. Bai Qian bit her lips to prevent her smile from becoming too obvious and put on a most solemn expression.

“Next time then.”

“And what of now?”

“Now?” she said, looking around and up at the clear sky. “Now, I would not object to a walk around this lovely garden.”

Chapter 17, Part 1