20,000 years after the Ghost War
Si Yin watched her beloved golden lotus wither right before her eyes as she poked at it gently, with the long blades of grass. The fullness of its once splendid peaks sunk and collapsed onto itself as its radiant glow rapidly began to fade. The lotus, in an instant, looked dry, shriveled and parched floating on the surface of the Kunlun Mountain lotus pond. Distressed, Si Yi ran towards Mo Yuan who was coming in her direction,
“Shifu, my golden lotus is dying!” Si Yin cried still holding the long grass blades in her hands. The golden lotus had been her silent friend and confidante, as she watched over it for thousands of years.
Mo Yuan, the Master of Kunlun Mountain, stepped next to the pond and studied the altered golden lotus in reflection. Thousands of years had passed since Heavenly Father’s last request prior to his fading into nothingness.
Heavenly Father explained to Mo Yuan that it was the year the four poles fell and the Nine Kingdoms crumbled: Heavenly Mother worked hard to repair the four pillars that held up the sky but this impacted upon her unborn babies. She was able to give birth to only one of the babies, Mo Yuan the bigger one. Heavenly Father felt sadness and remorse for his youngest child. He stubbornly held on, unable to let his innocent child fade away. Heavenly Father used half of his life force and turned this immortal embryo into a golden lotus, which he left under the care of Mo Yuan, Master of Kunlun Mountain until he was ready to be born.
Mo Yuan looked at the lotus with a subtle smile and said, “Seventeen, I think my wait is over and the time has finally come.”
50,000 years later
Si Yin was cleaning the wine cellar when Zi Lan, the sixteenth disciple came looking for her. As usually she was taking her time and cleaned at a leisurely pace, picking out the bottles she planned to drink and hiding them behind the other bottles.
“Seventeen, Shifu is looking for you. What did you do now? What trouble have you involved yourself in this time?” Zi Lan asked with a curious expression on his face.
Si Yin thought to herself and couldn’t recall doing anything worse than usual. Being the only woman in the all male school on Kunlun Mountain sometimes became too monotonous, so trouble was occasionally needed to spice things up in her opinion at least. Of course, this was solely her opinion and not shared with anyone else, especially her Shifu, High God Mo Yuan.
Shifu purposely gave her all the tasks that were the most boring, repetitious, and time consuming. Leaving very little time to explore and wander into the mortal realm. She went there with the full intention of learning, of course. Listening to mortal stories at her favorite tea house taught her many things she wouldn’t have ever learned in Kunlun Mountain. Beneficial and valuable lessons. Lessons in life.
Shifu silently sat at his reading table and didn’t even raise his eyes when he heard Si Yin sit in from of him on her knees.
“Seventeen, you must be back in time for Crown Prince Ye Hua’s coronation. I know you tend to lose yourself and become unrestrained when you return to Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms. You must be back in five days time or you’ll be copying “The True Classics of Vacuity” for the next 400 years.”
Mo Yuan finally raised his eyes and looked at his disciple Si Yin. Si Yin became his seventeenth disciple on the same day Zi Lan became his sixteenth. They arrived just minutes apart from one other and fought not to be the youngest disciple of Kunlun Mountain. Mo Yuan being used to resolving arguments between the bickering disciples simply bribed Si Yin with an artifact she couldn’t refuse. The powerful Jade Purity Fan. Perhaps it was her fate to accept the fan without hesitation and become his seventeenth disciple, because Mo Yuan knew the Jade Purity Fan had chosen her first.
Many questioned why Mo Yuan would give a wild fox such a weapon of immense power, but they didn’t know what Mo Yuan knew. Si Yin was the only daughter of the powerful Fox King. Hidden behind a spell to make her appear as a male disciple; credit to Mo Yuan’s brother High God Zhe Yan, Medicine God and also creator of fine wines made from the ripe sweet peaches from his own Ten Miles Of Peach Blossoms.
Si Yin started to complain, “Shifu..”
Mo Yuan briskly cut her off. “Five days Seventeen. No more and no less.”
Mo Yuan looked back down and continued what he was doing before Si Yin’s appearance. He heard Seventeen accept his terms and bow before walking away. Mo Yuan finally raised his eyes and looked at the back of his little Seventeen walking away. It amazed him how nobody other than himself, could see through the facade of Zhe Yan’s appearance spell. Si Yin was very pretty. She was actually too beautiful to be a male. Her small frame, delicate facial features and the mystery of what she was hiding under the bulky, unflattering robe worn by all the disciples. Mo Yuan stopped his mind from wandering any further. She was his disciple and Mo Yuan her shifu. The bond they shared as teacher and student was one of fillial respect and was sacred.
Mo Yuan also knew this was only momentary. Seventeen was fast approaching the age of marriage. If anything she was slightly behind other women. Most women married and had children by the time they were Si Yin’s age. Yet the Fox King didn’t pressure Si Yin, so naturally she didn’t feel the rush that other women might feel. That, however, did not mean there wasn’t talk of marriage. There was already gossip of Heavenly Lord sending his second son Prince Sang Ji, whom he lavished the most attention on out of his three sons, to Qing Qiu. Prince Sang Ji had been waiting in Qing Qiu for the past month, in hopes of building a romantic relationship with Si Yin..no Bai Qian. This was the reason behind Mo Yuan sending Si Yin back home for a few days. He knew his little Seventeen well enough to know this match wasn’t going to end as everyone hoped. Mo Yuan smiled thinking of poor Prince Sang Ji’s frustration and aggravation in the next few days to come.
When Bai Qian returned to Qing Qiu, Migu the tree spirit mount was waiting impatiently for her at the entrance of the Fox Den.
“Your highness, Prince Sang Ji has been waiting to see you for a month. I told him you were in seclusion but I think he’s starting to lose patience.” Migu looked around cautiously and continued to whisper, “We didn’t say anything about Kunlun but you can’t keep hiding from him forever. Shao Xin has been tending to his needs in your absence.”
Bai Qian took a quick look around and replied. “I’m not marrying him so he can wait forever.” Then she cloud jumped away but could still hear Migu calling “Highness! Your Highness no!” in the distance.
During her glorious five days in hiding, her chosen destination was Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms. There, Bai Qian did what she did best, which was drinking wine and taking naps throughout the day. She was able to let her hair down, dress in women’s attire and release the feminine side of herself that she kept concealed most of the time. There were times when she’d forget that she was truly a woman. This freedom to be her true self was a rare and delightful indulgence. Bai Qian basked in her liberation while slowly drinking a bottle of Zhe Yan’s special wine. Since tomorrow she’d be returning to back to Kunlun Mountain, she opened the second bottle and continued to drink at her leisurely pace.
Bai Qian inhaled the fragrant peach blossoms in full bloom and lounged lazily in a peach tree fully enjoying her intoxicated haze. Her graceful body balanced on a thick branch. This wine Zhe Yan had told her not to touch was different and strong. It was just like Zhe Yan to share only the best with her fourth brother Bai Zhen. Bai Qian relaxed and felt the warmth spread throughout her body. Soon her vision blurred and she felt dizzy from the heat. She considered taking a quick dip in the water to cool off when she caught sight of a dark shadow from the corner of her eye. Bai Qian mischievously called an enchantment spell and hoped this immortal was as valiant as he appeared. She threw her enchantment spell in the direction of the dark stranger as she allowed herself to fall from the branch and rolled towards the ground.
She felt strong arms catch her, hold her for a moment and pull her up to her feet. Bai Qian reached up, wrapped her arms around his neck, kissed the stranger and licked his lips. The dark figure seemed stunned and pulled away quickly. Bai Qian twisted her graceful body and pushed the stranger’s back up against the peach tree with all her strength. His response was lighting fast and reversed the position instantly. She reached up and bit his bottom lip. He sucked in the air from the pain and pulled away. He grasped both her arms firmly by her wrists in one strong muscular hand while pressing her up against the tree. Bai Qian could tell this man was quite tall. He was able to hold her arms up above her head and still create distance between their bodies. Their breathing came in heavy pants from the physical struggle before Bai Qian felt the stranger take a cautious step towards her. His hand slowly almost hesitantly caressed and explored her body over her clothing.
“Who.. are.. you? Bai Qian asked still trying to catch her breath. “I used an….enchantment spell on you.”
The stranger responded with a low whisper. “I know…. I saw you throw it and simply blocked it. You should practice more. You have a terrible sense of direction and even worse aim.”
Bai Qian pushed her face to his and kissed him fully tasting the metallic blood from when she bit him earlier. His response was still wary but slowly returned her kiss and slid his tongue in her mouth. His hand continued to touch her body as she moaned softly and let her head drop back expecting his kiss to move to her neck. Bai Qian was completely shocked to feel a hard bite instead of a kiss. She felt his sharp teeth and knew he’d left a mark. Bai Qian’s intoxication instantly vanished and she quickly lifted her head to look at the stranger with sober eyes, but like a shadow he was gone and she was standing alone. Bai Qian touched where he had bitten her and when she pulled her hand away, she saw fresh blood transfer onto her hand.
To be continued…