The shock of seeing his little Seventeen was mind-blowing, amazing and unbelievable. Back at Kunlun Mountain, Seventeen’s return still felt dreamlike, an incredible miracle. Mo Yuan never expected or anticipated this could or would happen. The love of Mo Yuan’s life was back from the grave. Seventeen, the woman who’d sacrificed her life for his returned from death.
Seventeen’s self-sacrifice of her life was the most generous gift Mo Yuan ever received from another, but it was also the cruelest act done to him. Mo Yuan had to stay alive and alone without Seventeen.
Mo Yuan was the only one who remembered Seventeen’s last words to him. Seventeen’s words of love before throwing herself into The Bell Of The East Emperor to save him. Seventeen last act of love, dying in Mo Yuan’s stead was something Mo Yuan considered to be both a blessing and curse.
Seventeen was back but without any recollection of her love for him. Again, she’d beaten Mo Yuan to the next move. Just as Seventeen blocked him from sacrificing himself to the bell; now she’d barred any chance of advancement for Mo Yuan to express his love and longing for Seventeen.
Again, Mo Yuan was furious at himself, for always being one step, behind Seventeen.
Why hadn’t Mo Yuan stayed in contact with Bai Zhi after Seventeen’s death? Had he been more involved with the Fox Clan, Mo Yuan could have been there when Seventeen first opened her eyes, returning from the grave, and into Mo Yuan’s waiting lover’s embrace.
The truth behind Mo Yuan’s avoidance of Bai Zhi was guilt. Mo Yuan’s failure to keep Bai Zhi’s daughter safe and alive made it impossible for Mo Yuan, to see any of Seventeen’s family members. Mo Yuan was to blame, and he was also the reason Seventeen was dead. Mo Yuan couldn’t look Bai Zhi in the eyes after his only daughter died for him, her Shifu, Mo Yuan.
Mo Yuan was Seventeen’s Shifu, but he was also the daft man who refused Seventeen’s endearing precious love and didn’t see what was obvious to everyone else.
Bai Zhi’s visits with Mo Yuan to discuss marriage for Seventeen, more times than Mo Yuan could remember because it was so often. Bai Zhi saw what Mo Yuan failed to recognize and repeatedly tried in vain to open Mo Yuan’s blinded sight. In retrospect, hindsight being 20/20, Mo Yuan now saw everything. His friend, Bai Zhi, was offering, giving permission, and trying to tell Mo Yuan, his daughter Bai Qian wanted Mo Yuan. Bai Zhi offered his only beloved, cherished daughter, Bai Qian, on a solid gold platter time after time, again, and again but Mo Yuan, the foolish simpleton that he was, never took a single bite of the grandiose overly-generous offering.
Mo Yuan was undeserving of the overflowing offer of such a beautiful unconditional love. Seventeen’s love worth much more than Mo Yuan earned or deserved. Now, Mo Yuan fully understood how lucky he was to have been the one Seventeen chose.
Seventeen’s love was life’s ultimate prize.
If only Mo Yuan knew then, what he now knew, how different would his life be? Even the slightest change could alter future’s outcome. Would Mo Yuan have been surrounded by his loving children and his beautiful wife, Seventeen?
How incredible could his life have been?
The act of self-inflicted torture and torment, Mo Yuan inflicted on himself, with unanswerable questions, about the unchangeable past. Felt like being struck with blazing thunderbolts and then being splashed with acid in a fresh, gaping, open wound. The burning, sizzling, searing and tearing sensations were overwhelming.
The twist of fortune and fate was outrageous. Seventeen was back and now considering marrying Ye Hua, Mo Yuan’s younger twin. How could have Ye Hua known who she was? When did he become aware of Seventeen’s identity? Why did it have to be his blood brother, from whom Mo Yuan would be stealing Seventeen, back? It wasn’t a crime because Seventeen was Mo Yuan’s first from the start.
Mo Yuan determined, all his life, he’d dedicated and dutifully served for the sake of others. Without a single complaint, grievance or objection, never once had Mo Yuan asked for anything in return for his help and sacrifices. Mo Yuan gave and contributed for the full duration of his life, and now Mo Yuan wanted to take something back. For the first and only time in his long hundreds of thousands of years of life, Mo Yuan was going to put down his cultivation, responsibilities, his titles God Of War, son of Heavenly Father, Master of Kunlun Mountain, conscience and the consideration of others. Surrender to his selfish wants, desires, and needs as a man, not an Immortal God.
The basic needs for a man to live and Mo Yuan’s only need in life were his little Seventeen.
Mo Yuan found Ye Hua and Seventeen standing outside the entrance of the Fox Den in Qingqiu. They looked like two new lovers in the beginning stages of courtship. Seventeen blushed becomingly with color and demurely looked down at the ground before her. She glanced up occasionally and smiled when she saw Ye Hua. Ye Hua also shy, as he stood before Seventeen with his nervous hands interlocked behind his back.
They looked like two children on the playground.
Ye Hua saw Mo Yuan first, and Seventeen followed Ye Hua’s direction of vision and saw Mo Yuan. She was stunning. Seventeen in a soft peach gown with her dark, long, silky hair down like the last time Mo Yuan saw her in Ten Miles Of Peach Blossoms.
Ye Hua had a little smile and gathered his arms, bowed and said, “Ye Hua, Crown Prince of Celestial Heaven greets High God, Mo Yuan.
Mo Yuan softly replied, “Ye Hua, you’ve grown since the last time I saw you. You’ve suddenly become a man.”
Ye Hua gave Mo Yuan a little smile as Seventeen started to gather her arms, to bow but Mo Yuan stopped her and asked, “Seventeen, is your father, Bai Zhi, inside?”
“Yes, he is High God, Mo Yuan. Would you like me to call my father out for you?” Seventeen replied.
Mo Yuan smiled, he’d never been called High God, Mo Yuan, by Seventeen before. It sounded so foreign coming from her lips. It instantly reminded Mo Yuan that he was now a stranger to her.
Mo Yuan replied, “No, I’ll see myself in.” before walking into the Fox den.
Mo Yuan’s back turned but he heard Ye Hua’s whisper to Seventeen, “I told you, your name was Seventeen. Can I touch one of your fluffy white tails now? Just one?”
Mo Yuan heard what sounded like a sharp slap before Ye Hua softly chuckled and apologized to her. Seventeen giggled softly at his apology.
Inside the Fox den, Bai Zhi was already standing and waiting for Mo Yuan when he entered. He came to Mo Yuan, lightly embraced him and slapped Mo Yuan firmly on his back. Bai Zhi, the Fox King, said, “My old friend Mo Yuan. It’s been too long. Too many thousands of years since we’ve seen each other. Come, let’s sit and talk. We have a lot of catching up to do.”
The Fox King asked Migu the tree spirit to bring out some tea for Mo Yuan. Bai Zhi asked, “Mo Yuan, how are you? I heard from Zhe Yan that you saw your disciple the other day. You must have been stunned. I planned to contact you soon. I was going to, seriously.”
“I heard you were near death, only half alive after retrieving the fungal grass. You look strong and healthy as ever, Bai Zhi,” replied Mo Yuan.
Bai Zhi angrily snapped, “I see that old Phoenix’s tongue has wagged as usual! That Zhe Yan is such a gossip! When will Zhe Yan ever grow up and act his age?” The Fox King shook his head and tsked his tongue as a display of his annoyance towards Zhe Yan.
The Fox King chuckled as Migu poured their tea. Bai Zhi suddenly slapped Mo Yuan’s knee firmly and scolded, “I was going to give you a strong taste of my wrath the next time I saw you. How could you stay away from me, the Fox Clan, and Qingqiu for so long? You were my friend first, long before you became Bai Qian’s, Shifu. You have no loyalty, Mo Yuan.”
The Fox King took a sip of his tea and added, “You and your Dragon Clan were always such an icy bunch. It’s all that cold reptilian blood that flows through your body, unlike we foxes. We’re a hot-blooded group.”
Mo Yuan began to softly apologize, “I’m sorry that I couldn’t stop Seventeen…”
Bai Zhi instantly cut Mo Yuan off, “My friend, there wasn’t any way you could have stopped her. Once my daughter decides on something, Bai Qian is unstoppable. I don’t know from where she inherited that terrible stubbornness and lousy temper? It must come from her maternal side.”
Mo Yuan chuckled and said, “Bai Zhi, we both know she inherited your stubbornness and temper. You shouldn’t blame your lovely wife.”
A woman’s voice came from one of the dens, “I knew there was a reason; I loved Mo Yuan most out of all your friends, Bai Zhi. He just called me lovely and protected my honor. Blaming my side for Bai Qian’s temper and unyielding nature. Qian Qian’s father, have you no shame? The Fox Queen said as she sat beside the Fox King and pressed herself against Bai Zhi’s arm.
The Fox King turned to her as she lightly kissed Bai Zhi’s cheek. Bai Zhi turned back to Mo Yuan and asked, “So tell me the real reason you’re here, Mo Yuan.
Mo Yuan took a deep breath and stood as he began to humble himself and started to bow to the Fox King.
The Fox King roared, “Mo Yuan! Don’t you dare get on your knees in front of me! If you don’t stop this instant, I’ll kick you out of this Fox den and never see you again. Stand up! You are the son of Heavenly Father! You are God Of War! You mustn’t ever bow down to anyone especially me!”
The Fox King grabbed Mo Yuan and pushed him back down to sit comfortably before sitting down himself. Bai Zhi’s cheeks flushed red and splotchy from his anger. He turned to his wife and softly requested she leave so he and Mo Yuan could speak privately.
“I know why you’re here, Mo Yuan. I can’t make Bai Qian remember you again. You’re too late. She’s forgotten you. You stupid, dense Dragon! What did I have to do? Use an enchantment spell for you to get it through that thick Dragon’s skull!” Bai Zhi shook his head at Mo Yuan. His tone sounded harsh, but the smile never left the Fox King’s face.
“Bai Zhi, I’m not in the position to ask or make any requests, but please hold off accepting Ye Hua’s marriage proposal. I just need a little time. Seventeen doesn’t need to remember me. It might be better if she forgets her heartbreak from my inability to recognize what was right before my eyes. What I stubbornly denied and paid the price for and will continue to be indebted to Seventeen and you.” Mo Yuan paused and swallowed nervously.
Mo Yuan softly added, “Please, Bai Zhi, let me try to win Seventeen’s heart back the right way. I know better now, and I won’t repeat my mistakes.” A single tear ran down Mo Yuan’s face which he wiped off with the back of his hand.
Bai Zhi leaned into Mo Yuan with tears and replied, “Mo Yuan, you are like a brother to me. I’ll hold off on giving Ye Hua an answer and give you time, but if Bai Qian wants to marry Ye Hua, I won’t stop her.”
The Fox King chuckled as he wiped the tears from his eyes and said to Mo Yuan, “Alright Tuzi, let’s see if you still live up to that infamous nickname of yours. What do you want to do, Mo Yuan?”
“I want to take her back to Kunlun Mountain. I want to take her home.” Mo Yuan softly replied.
Bai Zhi, the Fox King, patted Mo Yuan’s knee and said, “Tuzi, you can take Bai Qian to Kunlun Mountain, but if she doesn’t want to stay there you must follow her lead and allow Bai Qian to do as she wishes. Can you agree to that, Mo Yuan?”
“Tuzi, get her drunk and do what you used to do in school!” The Fox Queen yelled from the other Fox dens.
The Fox King shook his head and said, “Damn sharp Fox ears of hers! She hears everything! All the time! Sometimes, I think she can hear my thoughts!”
Mo Yuan softly chuckled and said, “I should have married your wife.”
“Tuzi, you greedy bastard! Do you want my wife and my daughter? You can’t have both! You Celestials and your damn harems!” The Fox King shouted before slapping Mo Yuan’s back playfully.
“Anytime Seventeen wants to leave Kunlun Mountain; I’ll bring her back personally. I promise,” said Mo Yuan.
The Fox King told Migu to bring Bai Qian inside because she had somewhere to go. Mo Yuan walked out with Migu as he delivered the Fox King’s message, to Seventeen. Seventeen and Ye Hua were holding hands when she looked at Ye Hua and said goodbye. Ye Hua held her back and put out his cheek for her to kiss. Seventeen looked at Ye Hua, rolled her eyes, pressed her full lips into a flat line, grimaced and hesitantly leaned into his cheek. Ye Hua turned his face, so their lips met instead. Seventeen pushed Ye Hua away roughly and burst out into laughter.
Mo Yuan should have felt guilt towards his twin, Ye Hua but he didn’t. Instead, Mo Yuan met a new sensation, a new emotion; he discovered a foreign feeling inside him, Mo Yuan now understood the feeling of jealousy.
Seventeen listened to her father’s request and nodded that she would do as he desired. Seventeen told that she had many other brothers anxiously waiting to see her again. Seventeen looked at Mo Yuan nervously but then suddenly smiled. She asked for a moment to prepare herself for the journey.
Seventeen followed Mo Yuan as they quietly walked together. Seventeen was silent, and Mo Yuan tried his best to control himself from staring too openly at Seventeen.
Mo Yuan and Seventeen stood at the base of Kunlun Mountain when Mo Yuan asked, “We could cloud jump to the top or would you like to take a walk, Seventeen?”
Seventeen looked at the mountain and said, “High God, Mo Yuan, I’d rather walk. I was asleep for 50,000 years. I need to firm up again. You’d be surprised what 50,000 years of sleep will do to someone’s body.”
Mo Yuan smiled at Seventeen’s words because she hadn’t changed at all.
While walking to their destination, Seventeen bent down, picked random wildflowers and put them under her nose to inhale their scent. She smiled like a girl as Seventeen walked and dramatically swinging her arms with every step she took.
She asked, “High God, Mo Yuan, how many disciples do you have? I know, that I’m Seventeen but how many more disciples are up in Kunlun Mountain?”
“You are the most junior disciple so; there are Fifteen more.” Mo Yuan answered.
“If I’m Seventeen, shouldn’t there be sixteen more students?” Seventeen asked looking puzzled.
“My Ninth disciple Ling Yu died during the Ghost War. I lost both you and Ling Yu on the same day.” Mo Yuan whispered. Overcome with emotion for the life-shattering loss as he recalled that terrible cursed day.
“Oh, It’s unfortunate Ling Yu couldn’t be brought back to life. You must miss him?” Seventeen asked.
“The Ghost War was where I lost the most important person in my life, Seventeen,” Mo Yuan replied.
Seventeen nodded her head that she understood and said. “Ling Yu must have meant a lot to you, High God, Mo Yuan.”
“High God, Mo Yuan, may I ask you something?” Seventeen asked, but Mo Yuan couldn’t help but smile at her calling him by his full title. “Did I say something funny, High God, Mo Yuan?” Seventeen asked.
Mo Yuan replied softly, “You never called me High God, Mo Yuan. You used to call me Shifu, so I’m still adjusting to it. That’s all.”
Mo Yuan heard Seventeen softly say ‘Shifu’ a couple of times as if she was practicing. Seventeen looked lovely as her gown moved and flowed with the light breeze. Mo Yuan openly stared at Seventeen and drank in her beauty. Wordlessly, Seventeen and Mo Yuan walked on the thick lush green which smelled grassy and aromatic. Seventeen bent down, took off her shoes and smiled when she felt the dense grass tickle her bare feet. Subtly, her peach fragrance moved with the wind, and the sweetness infused the surrounding air.
Mo Yuan wondered if he was dreaming.
Seventeen stopped by one of the natural water pools, with her left-hand holding her dress up to keep it from getting wet. Seventeen bent her knees slightly, just enough so her right hand could reach into the pond, and scooped the colorless liquid with her cupped palm. Mo Yuan as if under a spell, watched her every movement, unable to take his eyes off Seventeen. She opened her cupped hand and spread her fingers apart to allow the clear fluid to run through and between her extended fingers. Seventeen turned to Mo Yuan and smiled brightly. Mo Yuan’s heart suddenly grew wings.
Seventeen bewitched Mo Yuan.
Mo Yuan felt giant raindrops suddenly fall from the sky as an impromptu passing rainstorm abruptly poured down on them. Mo Yuan was about to raise a shield, to keep them from getting wet, when he saw Seventeen lift her arms up towards the sky, with her palms open and up. She closed her eyes and raised her smiling face up, drenched by the shower’s moisture; she started to laugh. Seventeen looked at Mo Yuan as she beamed from the enjoyable sensation of getting caught in the rain.
Mo Yuan found himself smiling like a fool.
Seventeen’s wet hair stuck on her beautiful face. Seventeen closed her eyes again and raised her visage towards the heavens and soaked in the pleasure of the cooling rain. She stretched out her arms and began to twirl in the same place. Seventeen squealed with delight.
She screamed, “Shifu, it’s raining so hard! Doesn’t it feel amazing!?”
Seventeen playfully skipped around in the wet, lush field without a pre-planned route, while Seventeen held her wet dress up and exposed her legs. Suddenly, Seventeen spotted the waterfall, unexpectedly ran towards, through and into the hidden cave behind it squealing with happiness. Mo Yuan wondered how she could have remembered about the cave and followed her. He quietly stood with his back pressed against the same rocky, cool, damp wall as he’d done once before.
Seventeen walked around amazed. She studied the surrounding stone walls wide-eyed and exclaimed, “I don’t know how I knew about this secret place, but I just did! I wonder if I’ve been here before?”
Seventeen’s excited words echoed in the hidden cavern behind the rushing waterfall.
Both Mo Yuan and Seventeen soaking wet, from the rain, and from running through the waterfall. Winded, Seventeen struggled to catch her breath and smiled brightly at Mo Yuan. Her back pressed against the clammy cold granite wall, opposite Mo Yuan. Seventeen’s wet dress plastered and painted on her curvaceous body. The soft peach flesh-toned hue of her gown appeared transparent in some areas. The outline of her full breasts pressing toward the drenched material. Seventeen’s long, black, silky hair in soaking wet pieces some stuck to her lovely face.
Seventeen looked wild, tantalizing, tempting and intriguing.
Mo Yuan’s already massively heavy robe, covered entirely with metal nail top shaped ornaments weight doubled from the wetness. Mo Yuan took it off and dropped it to the ground. The noise of his soaked garment made a weighted spat accompanied by the sound of loosely thrown copper coins when it hit the ground. He stood in his lighter layers which were also saturated and stuck to his muscular body showing off his broad, sturdy, shoulders and firm and toned chest. The sheer light-colored drenched textiles fixed to Mo Yuan’s well-defined, muscular, powerful arms. Mo Yuan undid his topknot, shook his head, so his wet black hair fell and framed around his striking face. Small wild wet pieces dropped in front and swept in front of Mo Yuan’s dark eyes.
Still gasping and catching her breath, Seventeen studied Mo Yuan’s face inquisitively. Mo Yuan’s expression was one of wonder, hunger, anticipation, want, and longing. Mo Yuan couldn’t hide his repressed emotions any longer. His secret feelings now exposed and fully revealed on his handsome face. Mo Yuan’s dark, rich, sable-colored, expressive gaze fixed on Seventeen. His thirsty eyes drank in Seventeen’s beautiful sight. Mo Yuan’s eyesight set and refused to see anything Seventeen.
Curiously, Seventeen observed Mo Yuan and asked in a wary tone full of uncertainty, “Shifu, why are you staring at me like that? Why are you always watching me?”
Mo Yuan’s soft voice replied without hesitation, “You’re so beautiful, Seventeen, that I can’t take my eyes off you. Everything about you intrigues and fascinates me…..I’m completely mesmerized by you. I never want to stop seeing you, ever. Your entire presence is so exquisite; that I find myself wondering if you’re real.”
Mo Yuan paused and added “I can’t help but stare at you because I’m afraid if I do, I’ll wake up, and this would have all been a dream. Seventeen, if this is a dream, I never want to wake up.”
Shocked, Seventeen’s eyes-widen at Mo Yuan’s candid and revealing response. She blinked nervously and dropped her gaze to the ground. Mo Yuan couldn’t stop himself as he moved towards Seventeen. His breath quickened and his heart pounded rapidly in his chest. Seventeen swiftly glanced up, saw Mo Yuan slowing walking in her direction and dropped her eye again. Mo Yuan stood inches away from Seventeen. Wordlessly, he lifted his right hand and gently raised her chin, so their eyes met. Mo Yuan’s eyes searchingly stared deeply into Seventeen’s uncertain dark gaze. His breathing came out in jagged, and broken exhales.
Seventeen seriously studied Mo Yuan’s expression, and asked tentatively, “I feel silly asking you this but are you in love with me, Shifu?”
Mo Yuan’s gaze intensified, and his full lips formed into a little smile. Mo Yuan held Seventeen’s chin and replied, “Yes, Seventeen. I’m mad, out of my mind, and insanely in love with you. I want you so badly that it’s difficult to breathe when you’re near.”
to be continued……………….