Qing Cang sent Mo Yuan a special message in the form of a display of his savagery and cruelty. Near death, severely beaten and wounded, Xuan Nu, Seventeen’s once female companion, was left at the base of Kunlun Mountain. She was still wearing her scarlet red, wedding dress soaked in blood. Xuan Nu was Qing Cang’s new daughter-in-law recently married to his second son Prince Li Jing. Such butchery and torture to a member to his own immediate family was unspeakable.
Ghost Lord, Qing Cang, was a foul, inhuman beast undeserving to breathe air.
Xuan Nu wasn’t able to get out of bed for almost three weeks due to the extremity of her injuries. She was unconscious for nearly two weeks. Xuan Nu had broken bones, open wounds, and piercings from stabbing swords. Mo Yuan was surprised such a petite woman was able to survive such a vicious attack and live.
The first thing Xuan Nu did, after her recovery was, on bended knees begged Seventeen for her forgiveness. Xuan Nu repeatedly pleaded with an indifferent unforgiving Seventeen, but Xuan Nu’s words were unheard. As much as Seventeen’s love, friendship, and loyalty were sincere once wronged, her angry and hostility was as equally fierce. Seventeen avoided Xuan Nu and behaved as if she wasn’t there. Seventeen treated Xuan Nu as if she were invisible, non-existent and unheard.
During this time Mo Yuan devised and designed his tactical and strategic points, plans and intentions to end the war as quickly as possible. To Mo Yuan, God Of War, a swift victory also meant fewer casualties hence more lives saved. Mo Yuan hoped to prevent unnecessary deaths for both the Celestial and Ghost Realm’s armies, with a full assault from all sides.
Favorably, the battle would take place by the Roushui Riverbank which allowed for another level of security. Mo Yuan planned to raise and freeze the water to create a solid ice blockade. If a glacier block walled up one side, the attack would coincide from the other sides and above all at once. A full-fledged strike both aerial and ground to suppress the Ghost Realm soldiers quickly.
The faster Qing Cang surrendered, the less likelihood and chance for him to successfully activate The Bell of the East Emperor. The bell if used could mean the end for both sides. Since it’s immense energy pulled and consumed everything, regardless of if they were Celestials or Ghost warriors. The bell claimed everything from trees, animals, human lives, and souls without discrimination. Only the sacrifice of a powerful immortal spirit could deactivate The Bell of the East Emperor and close its seal for 70,000 years. If the bell was activated, Mo Yuan wouldn’t have any other choice but become the sacrificial divine soul.
Mo Yuan’s soul would fragment and scatter for eternity.
Time flew quickly, and Mo Yuan found himself on the battle field. Mo Yuan discussed his plan of action with The White Goddess, Yao Guang, all three of Heavenly Lord’s sons, First Prince Yang Cuo, Second Prince Sang Ji, Third Prince Lian Song, and the Generals from the other Clans. All three Princes without any previous experience in battle. Mo Yuan had his brightest disciples Si Yin and Ling Yu beside him as they listened intently to his plans. Mo Yuan expected the combat to be one that would be suppressed quickly. So he wasn’t worried about the safety of his disciples who accompanied him. Mo Yuan didn’t plan or foresee a need for them to enter or engage in combat.
The night before the pre-planned first day of The Ghost War, Mo Yuan found Seventeen standing alone on the ridge of their elevated encampment. Behind her, the beautiful onyx night sky sparkled filled with thousands of glimmering stars. Oddly, Mo Yuan only saw Seventeen’s glow and didn’t see a single shimmering star but her.
Seventeen looked out sadly, sighed deeply as she said, “It’s so peaceful here now. I hate to think of all the people who will be dying out there tomorrow.”
Mo Yuan lightly placed his hand on the back of her neck and said, “War is unfortunate but sometimes unavoidable. The battle here could bring another 100,000 years of peace. Seventeen, do you remember when I told you about the spell to seal The Bell Of The East Emperor?”
Seventeen nodded that she did so Mo Yuan against his wishes decided to teach Seventeen the sealing spell. If Mo Yuan were to fall in battle, the only other person capable of sealing the bell was her. Seventeen had inherited the genes of her powerful father, Bai Zhi, the Fox King and was stronger than she or anyone else recognized. Mo Yuan knew from the beginning, and that was his actual reason for giving Seventeen the Jade Purity Fan.
Together in the tranquility of darkness, before the impending battle, inside the confines of a privacy shield, Mo Yuan taught his little Seventeen the spell. The magic to seal and reseal The Bell of the East Emperor.
Mo Yuan also prayed Seventeen would never need to use it because he would alway be there to perform the act himself.
Before the first attack, there wasn’t a single sign that would indicate the tragedy what would occur during the Ghost War. Every last detail planned, devised, arranged and carried out with Mo Yuan’s expert ability and experience. To Mo Yuan’s surprise, the Ghost Realm’s army broke through all his strategically placed barriers and continued to advance as if they were aware of Mo Yuan’s designs from the start.
During the clash between both armies, Mo Yuan brokenhearted as he watched the death of his cherished ninth disciple Ling Yu. Seventeen saw the attack on Ling Yu and threw herself dangerously inside, the Ghost Realm soldier’s ring formation. She and Ling Yu, back to back in the middle fended off the vicious attack and held their ground momentarily. Outnumbered and weakened by injury, Seventeen’s beloved disciple brother Ling Yu, died in her arms.
Luckily, Bai Zhen, Seventeen’s fourth brother arrived just in time to extract Seventeen and Ling Yu’s body from the center of a Ghost Realm’s soldiers circular structure. Inconsolable was Si Yin. She wept bitterly at the sight of her fallen Ninth disciple brother, in his eternal sleep of death.
The Ghost War and Ninth disciple’s death was Seventeen’s first time experiencing both engagement in battle and the loss a comrade in during a war.
Seventeen tearfully demanded, “Shifu, please help him. I know you can make him better. Please, Shifu you can make Ninth disciple better.”
Mo Yuan wished he could bring Ling Yu back to life. Seventeen thought Mo Yuan could save Ling Yu, but he was already dead. The only thing Mo Yuan could do was send Ling Yu’s body back to Kunlun Mountain safely for his parents to perform his death rites.
Seventeen angrily told Mo Yuan, that Xuan Nu had stolen Mo Yuan’s plans for the battle while she was at Kunlun Mountain. The Ghost Realm’s successful avoidance of Mo Yuan’s well laid out barricades and continuous forward advancements were because they knew Mo Yuan’s plans from the start. Qing Cang was aware of Mo Yuan’s moves before Mo Yuan set them into motion. Mo Yuan realized then this war would be a loss for the Celestials if it continued any longer. What Mo Yuan needed, was a diversion. He needed to make a move Qing Cang wasn’t aware of.
Mo Yuan without any other options took a chance and decided a false army would be led directly into the center of the Ghost Realm’s army. Seventeen and her brother Bai Zhen would lead their troops while The White Goddess, Yao Guang and an army of 100,000 became the Celestial’s Trojan Horse. They were aware; their lives would most likely end in death. Still, the military of 100,000 soldiers bravely followed The White Goddess, Yao Guang, into a certain death and became the last sacrifice that saved the war for the sake of the Celestials.
Most of Qing Cang’s army obliterated, and the remaining were ready to quit fighting but Qing Cang wouldn’t admit defeat. Mo Yuan presented Qing Cang an offer to allow him to live if he’d yield to Mo Yuan but Qing Cang refused. Instead, Qing Cang challenged Mo Yuan into combat.
The sky above Roushui Riverbank glowed and flashed both reds from Qing Cang’s crimson fire and silver lightning from Mo Yuan’s sword, Xuan Yuan, The Yellow Emperor’s Sword. Just when Mo Yuan was about to defeated Qing Cang, The Ghost Lord activated The Bell Of The East Emperor.
Instantly, there was disorder and chaos. The wind blew wildly, and things rooted to the ground began to lift and fly in the air. The bell once small enough to fit inside Mo Yuan’s palm, magnified, grew and expanded in the sky. The Bell Of The East Emperor continued to grow until it had completely covered the sky above by the width and expansion of the massive artifact of destruction.
Now opened to largest capacity, the powerful energy within the stirring, spinning and churning center began to pull and uproot everything in its circumference forcefully. The Bell’s rapidly moving core sucked and inhaled everything underneath it. Giant tall trees, rocks, and boulders the size of a house, and the bodies of the immortal pulled and consumed inside the nucleus. The Bell Of The East Emperor was the destroyer of heaven and earth.
Mo Yuan watched Qing Cang’s body lift, pull and move into the bell. Mo Yuan began the spell to seal the bell, but it wasn’t enough.
The Bell Of The East Emperor demanded a spiritual sacrifice.
Mo Yuan knew it what he had to do. There wasn’t another option. He looked at his love Seventeen one last time before pointing his sword directly into the heart of the bell. Mo Yuan closed his eyes and braced himself for the end. Suddenly Mo Yuan felt a blast of unexplained energy blocking his pathway upwards. It was his little Seventeen with the Jade Purity Fan fully extended. Seventeen gathered, compressed and exerted all her power, magic, cultivation. She collected the densely, concentrated mixture of cultivation, magical energy and became one with the fan and its energy. Seventeen blocked Mo Yuan, and the blast of her spell with the power of the Jade Purity Fan pushed Mo Yuan away from the scorching hot core.
Briefly, in a flash, their faces met. Seventeen had tears in her eyes as she said to Mo Yuan, “I can’t let you die Shifu; I love you.”
Before propelling, and launching herself at full force and speed into the center of the fiery churning soul shattering nucleus. After the Bell Of The East Emperor’s need for a sacrifice of a mighty immortal soul fulfilled, it suddenly deactivated, sealed and shrunk before falling into the Roushui River.
Mo Yuan was numb. The event that occurred before his sight was impossible. He couldn’t grasp what he’d just seen with his own eyes. Seventeen had not only saved Mo Yuan’s life and given her’s in return. Mo Yuan couldn’t breathe. Mo Yuan was frozen unable to move. He was in total disbelief. Mo Yuan heard Bai Zhen’s grieved fox howls echo at the edge of the Roushui Riverbank. Sorrowfully crying over the death of his baby sister Bai Qian, Mo Yuan’s beloved seventeenth disciple and his heart’s deepest desired lover. Mo Yuan saw Seventeen’s lifeless body slowly drift down towards the riverbank and realized Seventeen was dead.
Mo Yuan’s beloved Seventeen was gone.
Seventeen’s death was a nightmare; from which Mo Yuan couldn’t awake. Days, months and years later, the realization of her death still seemed unreal. Too unbelievable. How could she have created enough power to accomplish what she did? Mo Yuan’s guilt for Seventeen’s death consumed him. He couldn’t sleep or eat. Mo Yuan could barely breathe from the weight of his regret and sorrow.
Mo Yuan felt dead more than he felt alive.
The Kunlun disciples grieved the loss of both their Ninth and Seventeenth brothers. Months later when something Seventeen loved to eat was served, many still were unable to take a single bite and sat in tears. The disciples grieved for their beloved, and cherished brothers lost in battle while Mo Yuan grieved for the woman he loved.
The woman Mo Yuan loved, but Seventeen never knew he did. Seventeen died without knowing how much Mo Yuan loved her.
The last moment before Seventeen’s death, flashed before his eyes constantly, like a haunting the ghost of her lovely face never left his mind. How could Seventeen have done such a cruel deed and left Mo Yuan alone to live without her? Some days Mo Yuan’s grief turned into fury at Seventeen and himself. Why hadn’t he been able to stop her? Seventeen’s act of self-sacrifice shattered Mo Yuan’s soul more than the bell could have ever done.
Mo Yuan was a broken man. A foolish man who was full of remorse and anger at Seventeen’s selfish action of leaving him behind. Mo Yuan never told Seventeen how much he loved her. Mo Yuan never told Seventeen that he loved her as a woman, not his daughter. Mo Yuan never held Seventeen in his arms like he wanted to night after night. Mo Yuan only repeatedly rejected and refused Seventeen’s attempts to show her love to him. Mo Yuan never apologized for breaking Seventeen’s heart.
If Mo Yuan could go back in time, he would have done everything differently, but the tragedy of the past was unchangeable and resolute.
Often, Mo Yuan sat silently in Seventeen’s old room for hours and held thing he thought might still hold her scent. The memory of Seventeen’s sweet fragrance was beginning to fade. Mo Yuan couldn’t remember the smell that used to infuse his room, and all the places Seventeen passed for 20,000 years. In a fit of rage, Mo Yuan smashed all the bottles of peach wine in the cellar. He broke his zither in half and threw it off the cliff at Kunlun Mountain.
Mo Yuan was a Taoist Master but suddenly became a Master in Disharmony and lacked humility. He couldn’t control his explosive emotions or suppress them as he’d once done. Mo Yuan didn’t have a reason to live without her. Seventeen had long ago become Mo Yuan’s reason for breathing air now without her what was the point to carry on?
Mo Yuan went into seclusion and stayed in his cave alone for 50,000 years. There was peace after the Ghost War, so there wasn’t a need for him to around. If Mo Yuan was honest, he didn’t care. All Mo Yuan could feel was his loss. His consuming and devastating loss.
In solace, Mo Yuan’s longing for his little Seventeen only grew. His body was alone, but in Mo Yuan’s mind, Seventeen smiled. She laughed and looked at Mo Yuan with a look of desire. Mo Yuan decided to live in the past instead of moving forward. Mo Yuan determined to hold on to her image and pretend Seventeen was waiting for him outside his seclusion cave.
Mo Yuan wished he could cook himself into a stew for Seventeen.
to be continued…….