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 I can’t breathe when you’re near.”
Seventeen studied Mo Yuan’s face intently with her doubtful uncertain gaze and responded, “Is it because I died in your stead? Is that why you think you’re in love with me? If that’s the case, you’re not in love with me; what you feel is gratitude. Those are two very different things, Shifu.”
Mo Yuan released Seventeen’s chin and gently moved her wet hair off her face and to the side. He replied, “Gratitude? Yes, I’m extremely grateful for your sacrifice, but I’ve loved you long before you died for me and that feeling never went away. Even, after your death, my feelings for you only intensified. Seventeen, you’re the only woman I’ve ever loved in my entire life.”
Mo Yuan moved his hands and placed them flat on both sides of her face. He took another step towards Seventeen, so their wet bodies touched. Mo Yuan sensed warmth radiating from Seventeen’s body and her chest rose and dropped as a result of her nervous quickened breath. Seventeen swiftly glanced at Mo Yuan’s hands planted on both sides of her head and met Mo Yuan’s eyes. Seventeen’s gaze watched Mo Yuan tentatively, nervously and her bottom lip quivered slightly.
Mo Yuan asked softly, “Seventeen, are you afraid of me?”
“Yes. I am extremely fearful of you.” Seventeen’s response came fast and promptly.
Mo Yuan’s full eyebrows slightly furrowed as he whispered, “Why?”
Seventeen took a deep breath and returned, “When I look at you Shifu, my heart aches. I don’t know if it means that I loved you or if it pains me because you’ve hurt me in the past.”
Mo Yuan softly answered, “Maybe both.”
Seventeen turned her face to the side, diverted her vision and stared at the waterfall. She stated, “I’m uncomfortable and embarrassed by your forward behavior towards me, High God, Mo Yuan.”
Seventeen turned her head back, faced and met Mo Yuan’s gaze straight-on and added, “I’m considering marrying Ye Hua, your twin brother. I find your brazen treatment and presumptuous attitude towards me to be profoundly inappropriate and unfair to Ye Hua.”
Mo Yuan’s eyes darkened and filled with unshed tears. He replied, “Yes, I suppose you could feel that way because you don’t remember me.”
Mo Yuan stood straight, dropped his arms to his sides and took a step back. He said, “I understand but I’m not going to hold back my affections for you, ever.”
Mo Yuan sighed deeply and added, “You’re all I’ve thought about since your death, 50,000 years ago. I’m not going to stop because you’re alive. Seventeen, you’re the sole occupant in my head and that’s not going to change.”
“I’m not capable of stopping you from thinking, so it’s up to you as to how you choose to spend your time.” Seventeen replied haughtily.
Mo Yuan reached and touched a small part of Seventeen’s wet hair on her shoulder. Mo Yuan asked, “Do you love Ye Hua, Seventeen?”
Seventeen’s full lips formed into a flat line and her eyes narrowed on Mo Yuan’s face. She replied in a tone saturated in annoyance, “Of course not! I’ve only just met Ye Hua. Don’t tell me you believe in such absurd notions like ‘love at first sight,’ High God, Mo Yuan? Aren’t you the God Of War? You’re one of the oldest immortals.”
Mo Yuan reached out, tenderly caressed Seventeen’s cheek and replied, “I do believe in such absurd notions like love at first glance because I’ve loved you from the moment I first laid my eyes on you. I am the God Of War, but first I’m a man. A man desperately in love with you. Someone desperately wanting to be loved by you.”
Mo Yuan took a couple of steps back and asked, “Would you like me to use a drying spell or would you like to dry off as we walk?”
Seventeen firmly replied, “I’m capable of drying myself off. Perhaps that would be best if we cloud jumped the remaining distance to Kunlun Mountain.”
Mo Yuan smiled and carefully pulled Seventeen’s back off of the cold wall by her hand. She immediately tugged her fingers away from Mo Yuan’s grasp. Mo Yuan leaned down and picked up his wet robe. He watched Seventeen’s back as she exited the cave first, leaving Mo Yuan alone in the secret grotto, as he’d once done to Seventeen. It was then Mo Yuan realized, how lonely, hurt and rejected, Seventeen must have felt that day after Mo Yuan left her behind.
Now aware of Seventeen’s true gender, Mo Yuan expected their reactions to being one of shock and uncertainty, but he was wrong. The disciples instantly surrounded her, and many cried openly. Losing Seventeen once was once too many for everyone. Seventeen looked nervous but continued to smile at the massive outpour of attention and love.
She tried her best to stay calm under the unusual circumstances, as everyone took turns, and hugged her affectionately. Soon, Seventeen’s fears vanished, and an expression of wonder replaced the previous ones of uncertainty. Seventeen appeared moved by the open displays of friendship and love. Seventeen’s homecoming was one of the most exciting events to take place on Kunlun Mountain.
After the initial shock of seeing Seventeen, alive. They finally noticed Seventeen’s beauty in her real female form. Some openly commented that they knew she was a female from the start, while others told Seventeen how lovely she looked. Some asked Seventeen if she was ready to marry because they had brothers or friends that would fancy a woman like her.
Some looked at Seventeen like lovesick puppies.
Die Feng, Mo Yuan’s, senior disciple, went to her and put his forehead lightly against Seventeen’s.
He whispered, “Seventeen thank you for coming back to us.”
Seventeen asked, “Senior disciple, Die Feng?”
Die Feng’s eyes flew open in shocked as he asked, “Do you remember me, Seventeen? Shifu told us that you didn’t remember anything about your time on Kunlun Mountain. Are you just saying that to avoid admittance to all your mischievous deeds from the past?”
Seventeen smiled brightly and replied, “No, Zhe Yan told me about you. He described you perfectly. Zhe Yan said you were very handsome, Senior Disciple.”
Die Feng blushed instantly from Seventeen’s compliment and embarrassed by Zhe Yan’s appreciation of his appearance.
The disciples failed to see their Shifu because all they saw was Seventeen but now bowed at his return.
“Number One, could you show Seventeen to her old room? I need to change my clothes. I wasn’t expecting rain today.” Mo Yuan instructed.
“Shifu, why didn’t you protect yourself with a spell?” one of the other disciples asked puzzled.
Mo Yuan just replied, “Because our wildflower needed watering.” Before walking toward his chamber.
Confused, all the disciples looked at each other trying to figure out what their Shifu was talking about before refocusing their attention back on Seventeen.
Seventeen’s fellow brothers kept her up for two days straight with continual conversations. Some asked questions about her sudden death and how it felt to be unexpectedly resurrected. Others told her stories about her past deeds. Since Seventeen didn’t have any recollection of their history it was new knowledge for her. Quietly, others brought up the Ghost War and told her what occurred after her death. Many cried as they recalled her last moments. Watching Seventeen’s death was something nobody could forget.
Seventeen heard about Mo Yuan’s struggles to deal with the deaths of his pupils. She learned about Mo Yuan’s 50,000 years of long solitary retreat. Someone brought up how they’d never seen their Shifu, as angry as he was after the war. Another brought up Mo Yuan’s sadness. Everyone suffered from Seventeen’s death. Her death was difficult for all.
Mo Yuan overheard some of the disciplines’ conversations and wondered if it was better, for Seventeen to have forgotten the war. Zhe Yan’s amnesia potion made it possible for the person to choose what they wanted to forget and Seventeen’s entire experience on Kunlun Mountain was wiped clean from her mind.
The room Seventeen used for 20,000 years, was now a new place with personal items, she didn’t recognize. Seventeen didn’t recollect a single detail about Kunlun Mountain, often got lost and spent hours trying to find her way. Silently, Mo Yuan watched her from a distance. He became Seventeen’s protective shadow.
During this time, Mo Yuan refused to allow himself to sleep. Terrified, he would be correct and wake to find everything to have been a dream. Mo Yuan dreamt of Seventeen’s return for 50,000 years. He’d already seen this scenario hundreds of thousands of times in his mind. While in seclusion, scenes like this played in his brain continuously during the entire duration of his retreat.
Mo Yuan secretly watched Seventeen sleep every night. His sight hungered for her image, and he couldn’t get enough of looking at her. The sheer miraculous fact that Seventeen was back at Kunlun Mountain hadn’t sunk in yet entirely. Mo Yuan’s eyes followed Seventeen, afraid she would vanish again. He still at times wondered if he was dreaming.
The sweet mouth-watering fragrance in her room returned, and Mo Yuan inhaled deeply to fill his lungs to full capacity with her candied sugary scent. Unable to control himself, he lightly caressed her soft sleeping face with his lips. Something, he’d fantasized about doing since Seventeen’s sudden death. Mo Yuan ingested and savored every second as if it were the last. From Seventeen’s death, Mo Yuan learned nothing in life was permanent, even for Immortal Gods.
Just days after her return, Ye Hua came to Kunlun Mountain to see Seventeen. Mo Yuan jealously watched them intimately walking hand in hand and barely held back his rage. Mo Yuan wanted to run between them and tear their hands apart. He ached to claim her and wrap his arms tightly around Seventeen’s body in front of Ye Hua. Mo Yuan’s possessiveness inflamed when he saw them holding hands but when he witnessed Ye Hua embracing Seventeen passionately, Mo Yuan could barely breathe.
Ye Hua’s lean body pressed Seventeen’s back firmly against the cold stone pillar. Their lips met in a heated kiss. Seventeen and Ye Hua’s kiss was deep, long, and reflected each other’s complete abandonment. They were oblivious to anything, and anyone around them, as Ye Hua’s lips hungrily moved down her graceful neck. Seventeen’s slender arms were wrapped around Ye Hua’s neck, while his hands urgently explored and groped her bountiful breasts on top of her clothes.
Mo Yuan heard Seventeen let out a soft moan and forced himself to walk away.
Mo Yuan’s fears were confirmed after he saw Seventeen and Ye Hua’s ardent moment. Ye Hua was a strong contender and Mo Yuan’s rival for Seventeen’s love. Mo Yuan mistakenly underestimated Ye Hua at first. Mo Yuan believed due to Ye Hua’s youthful age that Seventeen might be a passing fancy in Ye Hua’s life, but he was wrong. Ye Hua was in love with Seventeen, and Mo Yuan knew, Ye Hua wouldn’t yield to Mo Yuan, just as Mo Yuan refused to surrender to Ye Hua. Mo Yuan knew this because the same blood ran through both his and Ye Hua’s bodies. Mo Yuan’s heart, and want for the same woman also shared with his identical twin, Ye Hua.
After witnessing, Ye Hua and Seventeen’s heated moment, Mo Yuan went and sat quietly in the wine cellar. He heard someone enter and knew without looking back, it was Seventeen. Her skin’s fragrance immediately infused the small chamber. Mo Yuan cleared his mind of seeing Seventeen and Ye Hua’s kiss.
Mo Yuan forced himself to hide his envy. He turned to Seventeen and smiled. Mo Yuan asked calmly, “Is Ye Hua still here, Seventeen?”
“No, Shifu. Ye Hua left a few minutes ago. I don’t know why but this room feels most familiar to me out of all the places in Kunlun Mountain. The sensation is almost like a déjà vu but stronger. Does that make sense to you?” asked Seventeen.
Mo Yuan answered, “You spent a lot of time in this little space.”
Mo Yuan pointed to the shelf full of peach wine and added, “See, you have a place for your collection of Zhe Yan’s peach wine. This area was your second room. You spent more time in here than in your quarters.”
Seventeen walked around slowing and nodded her head that she understood. She casually said, “My father and everyone else told me that I died for you, Shifu.”
“You did, Seventeen. You sacrificed yourself for me. Do you know why?” asked Mo Yuan.
Seventeen was stilling nodding her head ‘yes’ and said, “My father told me that I was in love with you and that’s why I stopped you from killing yourself. He said that I purposely killed myself for you, Shifu.”
Mo Yuan silently realized that he was greatly indebted to Bai Zhi. Much more than Mo Yuan ever imagined.
“Yes, that is true. You said you loved me before propelling yourself into The Bell Of The East Emperor. You died right before of my eyes. It was the worst moment of my life.” Mo Yuan confessed softly.
Seventeen sat beside Mo Yuan and asked, “Did you love me, Shifu?”
Mo Yuan quietly let out a single laugh at his pathetic self and answered, “I did, but I denied it to everyone including myself. Everyone knew I was in love with you but me, no I knew, but I was unwise and blind. The feeble part being I was the one who covered my own eyes. Do you believe what your father has told you about your feelings for me, Seventeen?”
Seventeen let out a soft chuckle and said, “My father is bias because of your friendship with him. He initially loved the idea of me marrying Ye Hua until you appeared. Suddenly, my father talks about Ye Hua as if he were a disease while he talks about you as if you’re the second coming of Heavenly Father, but I guess you are his son. Still, it’s silly considering you and Ye Hua are twins. My father should be content that anyone wants to marry me at all. I can’t believe you went to school with Zhe Yan and my old father. You don’t look your age. You don’t seem as aged as my father. Shifu, you still look quite young.”
Mo Yuan smiled and said, “Seventeen, I’m not sure how to take your comment. I don’t know whether to thank you or feel highly offended.” Mo Yuan found himself amused by the vast age difference between himself and Seventeen. Mo Yuan added, “Yes, I’m your father, Bai Zhi’s age. I guess that makes me an antique also.”
“Shifu, why does everyone call you Tuzi? What is the reason behind your nickname? Were you active in sports in school? Is that why they call your ‘Tuzi the Hare’?” Seventeen asked.
Mo Yuan’s cheeks were suddenly red and warm. He was embarrassed and struggled to keep from laughing due to his awkward position. Mo Yuan was striving to find the right words to answer Seventeen’s question. Flustered, Mo Yuan scratched his forehead nervously, while attempting to explain his ridiculous nickname.
Seventeen who was watching Mo Yuan’s anxiety looked entertained by how embarrassed Mo Yuan was and said, “I know why that is your nickname. My mother told me that you used to be extremely popular with the women. It’s difficult to image now, but I know why everyone calls you ‘Tuzi, The Hare.’ It was because of the accelerated speed of your seduction of women that caught your eye. I heard that it happened very often. Very, very, often. I heard all about your skills, Shifu.”
Seventeen stuck out her bottom lip and looked at Mo Yuan with side-eyes and added, “Shifu, High God, Mo Yuan, Master of Kunlun Mountain, God Of War, and son of Heavenly Father; you are shameless! You took all those women but rejected a beautiful young trophy like me for over 20,000 years. I don’t know if I loved you considering how difficult I find it to respect such a ridiculous man.”
Seventeen softly chuckled then became completely serious as she asked, “What did it feel like watching me kiss Ye Hua earlier, Shifu?”
Mo Yuan stared into Seventeen’s eyes and released a massively extended sigh. “It felt as if my insides were on fire. No, a small fire is an extreme understatement. It felt more like an inferno inside my body was scorching my soul.” Mo Yuan answered softly while holding Seventeen’s uncertain troubled gaze.
Mo Yuan then asked, “Seventeen, what did it feel like when you saw me watching you and Ye Hua?”
Seventeen dropped her gaze and looked down at the ground as she softly answered, “My heart hurt. I don’t know why but it made something inside my heart ache.”
Mo Yuan whispered, “Are you starting to fall in love with Ye Hua?”
Seventeen silently thought for a long moment before she carefully replied, “No, but I enjoy his company. I feel something warm and endearing when I’m with him, but it’s not romantic love…….yet.”
“Would you stop seeing Ye Hua if I asked it of you? Asked Mo Yuan.
Mo Yuan exposed and uncovered had all his emotions and vulnerabilities out for Seventeen to see clearly.
Seventeen said nothing but began to stand, when Mo Yuan suddenly grabbed her hand with his and stopped her from leaving.
Mo Yuan said, “I love you, Seventeen. I know you don’t remember, but I’ll tell you every day, so you’ll never forget. I’m never going to stop telling you how much I love you.”
“What if I marry Ye Hua? Will you stop then, Shifu? Will you end if I ask it of you?” Seventeen questioned as if she was testing him.
Mo Yuan closed his eyes, and his voice was barely a whisper when he responded, “No, Seventeen, I can’t allow you to marry Ye Hua. If you want to marry Ye Hua, then stab me in the heart with my sword first, and take me out of my misery. So, I don’t have to live without you.”
Mo Yuan held Seventeen’s hand and kissed the back of it and tenderly pressed it to his cheek. Seventeen’s eyes and expression were one of apprehension, but she didn’t pull away. She nervously watched Mo Yuan for a few moments, then pulled away, turned her back and walked out of the wine cellar. Mo Yuan stared at Seventeen’s back and wondered how many times had he walked away from Seventeen?
How many times did Seventeen see Mo Yuan’s back when he moved away from her?
Mo Yuan was thinking about what his next course of action should be, when suddenly, Seventeen walked back into the wine cellar, stopped abruptly in front of Mo Yuan, looked down and into Mo Yuan’s eyes before she said, “Two weeks. I’ll decide whether it’s you High God, Mo Yuan, or Crown Prince, Ye Hua in two weeks. That should be plenty of time for you, Tuzi.”
to be continued………