Chapter 13 - A Debt Repaid Part 8 written by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi
consulting by Bunny
“We’ll ride to Xunzhua’s border on Kirins,” Bai Qian explained to the Demon Queen as they both stood in the courtyard, waiting for the Kirins and for Yehua to join them. “Then we’ll cloud-jump to the Demon Realm’s border and ride our swords to the location according to the map you drew. You still remember how to fight, don’t you?”
Not that a mortal’s help would matter much in case of an attack.
Chuckling at her anxious look, the Demon Queen said, “Of course I do. Once in the mortal realm, I was a martial arts teacher for a group of children in a village.”
“You did that for a living?”
“For a brief while. I was testing out the theory that if I become the nicest person in the whole world, I would be allowed back to my real home. It didn’t work, of course. To be honest, I wasn’t too sincere about it, either.”
How many things had she tried in order to be allowed back? What kind of brutality had she endured and for how long? So many questions. Although, Bai Qian reminded herself again that her sympathy shouldn’t outdo her caution toward this woman.
Looking at that strikingly beautiful face that had grown a little pensive, Bai Qian’s worry grew. “I wonder whether we should make an effort to disguise you.”
Not that she knew how. Even with magic of the Foxes, it would take a skilled Fox who was efficient in that kind of spell to conjure a believable disguise.
“You’re afraid someone might recognize me?”
“I’ve been gone for too long,” a hint of sadness from her even voice. “Only the oldest members of the former council would recognize me.”
“Some people might still pick up that you’re not an ordinary mortal,” Bai Qian explained. “To tell you the truth, I had no idea who you were when I first met you, but even then I had a feeling you weren’t from the mortal world.”
A sided smile graced the woman’s face. “I’d say that had more to do with your ability to overthink than my looks, Moyuan’s disciple.”
“What…” Bai Qian’s ears grew hot. “Jie-jie, don’t call me… hang on --” She composed herself and went on evenly. “Do I look like High God Moyuan’s disciple?”
“Look? What do you mean?”
“If no one told you I was his disciple, would you have guessed that?”
An unbiased stranger’s opinion - that was what Bai Qian needed.
“No,” the Demon Queen replied, to Bai Qian’s great satisfaction. “I would have thought you were his handler.” She paused and laughed. “You looked like you were going to berate him right there when you knew who I was.”
Bai Qian looked away uncomfortably, although a part of her wanted to laugh along.
“Why does it matter anyway?” the woman went on. “You have left Kunlun and became the Queen of Qingqiu, it’s not your life-long obligation to act like a disciple around him. That’s the one thing I’ll never understand about the Celestials - apparently, once you call someone your mentor, you have to think of the person as your superior for the rest of your life.”
“Don’t you…” but Bai Qian stopped herself. She didn’t think mentioning Fuxi now was a good idea. “I agree,” she said instead. “Once you bow to your mentor and address him as such, the bond is sacred, but that doesn’t mean you’re bound to be beneath him forever. That’s not what we were taught at Kunlun anyway. Loyalty and respect toward our Shifu, yes, but not fear and subservience.”
“Exactly. Furthermore, that priest needs some challenge in his life.”
“You mean the God of War?”
“Yes, him,” the Demon Queen smiled. “He’s already a stick in the mud by himself, having everyone bowing to him and obeying him all the time makes him look even more so.”
Priest. Stick in the mud. Bai Qian felt strangely amused - those were the kind of descriptions she herself wanted to voice once in a while. But maybe some time later, when this war was over and she could talk to this Demon Queen as an unsuspecting friend again, she would correct her that Moyuan was not quite a stick in the mud. A stick in the mud would have no chance against Luoji. Unless it was a supremely powerful stick that could solve anything by always being the strongest.
“Is there really no way to contact Moyuan?” asked the Demon Queen suddenly.
“There isn’t a quick way to do so,” Bai Qian replied. “I’m guessing a message would take two days at least to reach him because it has to go through someone else first. And we don’t know whether he’s in the Void or among the main realms. Is there something you need to talk to him about?”
“No, I was only wondering how he’s been keeping you all up to date with his work in the Void,” she chuckled. “But it sounds like he still hasn’t learned that sometimes, other people need to contact him.”
That wasn’t wrong at all, Bai Qian sighed, adding that to the list of things she would say to Moyuan the next time he decided to make an appearance.
What is taking Yehua so long? She glanced back. They were not late, the Kirins that would carry them to the border still hadn’t arrived, but Bai Qian was rather anxious to leave. The sooner they left, the sooner they could come back and continue to prepare for this war. But as her eyes shifted to an upper floor of the palace, she caught sight of the library.
And the two figures standing behind the glass window.
Yehua and the Princess of Xunzhua stood about an arm’s length apart. He was saying something; and she didn’t look too happy… Bai Qian twisted around instantly, feeling as though she was intruding on something private even though she couldn’t hear a word they were saying.
What was going on between…
“Chirp!” The little sprite whooshed in front of her, teeth flashing in the early sunlight.
“What is it?” Bai Qian asked. “You’re hungry? Well, I do have some —”
“Chirp!” It gestured with its whole body to the right wing of the palace, right opposite of the library. The Courtroom.
Bai Qian’s head shot up. The Courtroom’s door was wide open and Pojing was walking toward the balcony from the inside, dragging a hand through his hair and looking utterly annoyed with the tight collar of his robe.
Or maybe he’d just come out of another argument among his court.
After Jiayun’s report that had confirmed the size of Luoji’s army, it had been meeting after meeting these days and all of them had been stressing over the matters of recruiting more soldiers and gathering more willing allies. Zhuowei had been pushing the production of weapons within Xunzhua to all limits. And Zhongyin was not helping any of them with his constant sneering and taunting every time Yehua walked into a room.
Bai Qian let out a small gasp when she suddenly realized what Pojing could be seeing from up there as soon as he took a look around.
Although, luckily, before Pojing could be aware of the two people in the library, his eyes had found her and the Demon Queen in the courtyard. He leaned forward and rested his forearms on the balcony, expression changing from vexed to something less readable.
Bai Qian looked back at him, not daring to turn her head around and see if Yehua had left the library yet. She had a feeling Pojing would just look where she looked, and frankly speaking - it would be hard even for her to justify Yehua having a conversation with the princess while his two companions were already out in the courtyard and ready to leave. If she could sense that Zhuowei was saddened, there was no doubt Pojing would be able to perceive the same thing from where he stood.
But soon, Nalan strode out from the Courtroom with a pile of documents in his arms and, after a brief discussion, accompanied his king back inside.
When Bai Qian looked back down, she was met with a pair of raised eyebrows.
“I don’t want to hear it,” she mumbled, wanting to slam her own face into a pillow somewhere.
The Demon Queen laughed. “Fine, I won’t say it. But just so you know, dear girl, that was one full minute of staring.”
Urghhh, Bai Qian gritted her teeth. Yehua! It’s all his fault! If he comes down here…
“Be home soon, Father!” A-li’s voice rang behind them. Bai Qian turned around to see the boy striding out with Yehua, holding his hand. Walking alongside them was Jiayun.
“I will,” Yehua stopped, getting down on one knee to fix the boy’s sleeves, smiling at him.
“I will look after Prince A-li, Your Highness,” said Jiayun when Yehua had risen again. “Please be careful on this trip. A lot depends on you in this war, our soldiers need you. Hope was lost when they all thought you died. When they gather back here, they need to see you well to believe in us again.”
“I know,” Yehua gripped his loyal general’s shoulder. “I cannot express my gratitude to you enough, Jiayun. I am glad you are here. Work with the King of Xunzhua, the Queen of Qingqiu and I will return in no time.”
Bai Qian’s urge to interrogate Yehua faded as she listened to their conversation. The lost Celestial soldiers, the pressure he faced from all directions, his parents. Maybe another time,, she would ask him if he and Zhuowei had quarreled. Come to think of it, what could they possibly argue about?
Yehua strode toward them after giving A-li another goodbye hug.
“Shield Stone,” he said to Bai Qian, handing her a small pouch that weighed like a bag of beans. “Zhuowei made one for each of us. You know how to use it, don’t you?”
She nodded, gripping the little bag tight in her palm. “The Kirins will be here in a second.”
An uncomfortable silence enveloped them. Neither Yehua nor the Demon Queen seemed to know what they should say to each other. One of them seemed to be forced to think about Moyuan, a younger version of Moyuan, and was reminded of a happier time she couldn’t go back to. The other one was obviously still stunned to look at a being he’d believed to be dead all his life.
The Demon Queen’s eyes suddenly narrowed. “Do you take after Moyuan in your cloud-jumping, Celestial Prince?”
Yehua seemed puzzled. Bai Qian, on the other hand, knew immediately what she was talking about.
“No,” she answered, grinning in amusement. “Yehua is a proficient cloud-jumper, and he never goes too fast, you’ll feel safe.”
Yehua nodded. “I will go slower than usual, too fast and the pressure might do harm to your mortal body.”
“I appreciate your thoughtfulness for your companions,” the woman chuckled. #BaiQian #三生三世十里桃花 #EternalLove #Fanfic #AlternativeReality