Si Yin found her shifu, Mo Yuan waiting for her by the lotus pond. Mo Yuan requested for her to join him a few minutes prior to the last bell before bedtime. Mo Yuan had his zither out and his defined hands were gently caressing the strings with a level of intimacy one would use with their lover. Every subtle touch created a whisper of sound, each sound echoed and lead a path followed by another until they formed a single enchanting melody. Si Yin felt a chill overcome her whole body as she sat next to him in her usual position. Close enough so that points of their bodies touched but distant enough for it to still be deemed appropriate. Even without looking up Si Yin knew Mo Yuan was smiling.
“Seventeen, today could have ended very badly for you. What would you have done if I wasn’t there?”
Si Yin thought about their encounter earlier in the afternoon and felt herself blush. Shifu had saved her from a potentially dangerous situation. After the initial shock, Si Yin was extremely thankful towards Mo Yuan for saving her..once again.
“Shifu..” Mo Yuan shushed her gently, stopped playing and lifted his eyebrows slightly indicating for her to wait and listen. The last bell sounded but instead of the usual serene silence, Si Yin heard startled voices coming from some of the disciples’ sleeping chambers.
“Why is my bed a block of ice!?” One disciple shouted and his shout was repeated by others. Shocked and confused voices shouted out when they discovered a block of ice where their beds should have been.
Mo Yuan let out a little chuckle when he saw Si Yin’s surprised expression followed by her light laughter that surrounded and filled the air like dandelion florets after being blown in the wind. Mo Yuan started to play again right where he’d left off before the evening’s entertainment began.
“Si Yin, you’ve been here for thousands of years and you’ve grown into a disciple that I’m quite proud of. You’ve changed much from when you first stepped foot in Kunlun Mountain.” Mo Yuan paused and focused on the reverberating zither string. “What do you plan to do now? You can’t continue with this charade.”
Si Yin sucked in a sharp breath, “Shifu, are you kicking me out?” Si Yin had expected this talk would happen soon but not yet. “I wanted to stay here forever.” she whispered.
Mo Yuan stopped playing, looked down at his little Seventeen and thought about if that was even a possibility.
“Even if those are your feelings, your parents will never agree. You will one day be the Queen of Qing Qiu and must marry in order to produce a heir. This is your destiny being born a female into an immortal clan of great power and wealth. Is there not a family or a lucky man you’ve had your eye on?”
Si Yin chewed at her bottom lip. “I used to have feelings for Li Jing but will never submit to being his side consort, while Xuan Nu is his Queen.” Si Yin paused to gather her thoughts. “I guess after Li Jing broke my heart…I transferred my feelings…to you Shifu. Was I not supposed to do that?” Si Yin looked up at Mo Yuan with genuine curiosity regarding her actions.
Mo Yuan’s controlled, even, steady heartbeat began to speed up. This child Si Yin was baffling and unpredictable as always. Mo Yuan looked at her blinking in confusion.
“I’m your Shifu and you are my little Seventeen. This is how it’s been and will continue to be in the future.”
Si Yin turned her full upper body towards Mo Yuan and asked boldly, “Shifu will you never marry? Must you stay celibate forever?”
Mo Yuan was at a loss for words. His calm expression was now replaced with one of surprise like the day when she called him a ‘pretty boy’ in front of all the disciples and Zhe Yan.
Si Yin stuck out her bottom lip and wrinkled her nose before standing up. “I’ve already made up my mind, so Shifu you just need to change yours.”
Si Yin said this as if it was simple as one snapping their fingers together. She bowed and headed to her room but not before giving Mo Yuan one more glance back.
Si Yin left her shifu, Mo Yuan in a mental fog. He didn’t even realize he’d snapped a string until he felt the warm blood from his freshly cut wound. Mo Yuan made a tight fist to stop the tingling in his palms that he’d been experiencing ever since touching Si Yin’s bare skin.
The following day, Mo Yuan noticed how distracted Si Yin was through most of her lessons. She kept looking up and out at every tiny sound. She nervously chewed on her bottom lip and fidgeted most of the day. It was when Ye Hua finally appeared, Mo Yuan understood the reason for her behavior. She jumped up and ran to Ye Hua. She went to grasp one of his black sleeves when Mo Yuan cleared his throat. Si Yin looked towards her shifu with uncertain eyes when Ye Hua walked towards High God Mo Yuan and bowed.
“High God Mo Yuan, Ye Hua would like to discuss strategic strategy with your seventeenth disciple Si Yin.” Ye Hua quickly peeked at Si Yin and saw him shaking his head ‘no’ and hit himself on his forehead with his open palm. Ye Hua heard the slap from where he stood. Ye Hua finished with a bow.
“Ye Hua, you wish to discuss ‘strategic strategy’ with Seventeen?” Mo Yuan asked softly.
Ye Hua replied back in the same soft tone. “That is the reason for my visit High God Mo Yuan.” Ye Hua could practically feel the nervousness coming from Si Yin.
“Seventeen.” Mo Yuan called. Si Yin came to him as quick as lightening. “Yes, Shifu.”
“Prince Ye Hua wishes to discuss ‘strategic strategy’ with you. Could you lead him to a quiet place where you two can do that?”
Mo Yuan watched Si Yin step up closely next to Ye Hua make big eyes at him and tug at his sleeve before greeting him. “Crown Prince Ye Hua, this way please.”
When they were out of Mo Yuan’s eyesight, Si Yin pulled on Ye Hua’s sleeve. “Why would you say strategic strategy!? That’s my worst subject! Follow me.”
Ye Hua couldn’t believe that Si Yin came running to greet him today. Never had he experienced the feeling he felt at that very moment. He indulged in his newly discovered emotion while Si Yin pulled him by the sleeve and led the way to the lotus pond. Ye Hua placed his hand on top of Si Yin’s tiny hand and enjoyed the moment before sitting down on the step.
Si Yin sat closely beside Ye Hua and pushed his shoulder and arm into Ye Hua’s side. “Ye Hua, what did you do yesterday!? How is Sha..the snake spirit today? Did you save her?”
Si Yin was asking his questions too quickly for Ye Hua to answer them correctly. “I’m engaged.” Ye Hua said simply.
Si Yin looked at him blankly and continued to ask, “Not that! Tell me about the snake. Start from the beginning. What happened to the snake?”
Ye Hua’s thick eyelashes moved fluidly like water as he blinked once then twice before resuming his story.
Ye Hua told Si Yin that he was able to get his third uncle Lian Song’s assistance. Uncle Sang Ji boldly freed and brought the snake spirit before, not only the Heavenly Lord, but also High God Zhe Yan and the Fox King. Uncle Sang Ji told everyone that he would rather die than live without his beloved but the Heavenly Lord wasn’t moved. “So Uncle Sang Ji told his snake that he would follow her in death and took his sword..”
Si Yin jumped up. “WHAT!!?? What sword?? Shao Xin is dead?!”
Ye Hua looked up curiously at Si Yin. “How did you know her name? I don’t recall telling you her name.”
Si Yin’s eyes were huge and his lip trembled slightly.
Ye Hua continued slowly, “No… she’s not dead.” Si Yin sat back down but even closer to Ye Hua than before. He was practically in Ye Hua’s lap.
Ye Hua told Si Yin how High God Zhe Yan stopped his uncle just moments before and saved the snake. Ye Hua felt Si Yin release his breath that he’d been holding.
Since this was a matter between the two clans, High God Zhe Yan felt Prince Sang Ji was unworthy of Bai Qian of Qing Qiu and the Fox King agreed. This was when Ye Hua and his third uncle’s brilliant plan came into play. Ye Hua’s third uncle offered a suggestion to appease everyone. Since this was a marriage of great importance, it would be more suitable for someone more deserving to marry Bai Qian. Someone like the next Heavenly Lord? Ye Hua let out a little smile,
“So I accepted the royal decree in my uncle’s place and am now engaged to marry Bai Qian, of Qing Qiu. I saved the snake.” Ye Hua ended proudly. Feeling pleased with himself for coming up with such a fine solution.
Ye Hua noticed Si Yin looked like he’d been hit by lightning before hearing Mo Yuan ask seriously,
“What did you just say Ye Hua?”
To be continued…