It was a fair, accurate description to say Mo Yuan’s restless mind was in total mayhem and turmoil. Entirely cluttered, clouded, clamorous and the private, inward dissonance was deafening to the point of lunacy. He wasn’t able to silence the constant rumbling inner noises, and vociferous mental disturbances even after several days of retreat. Defeatedly, he finally accepted his complete inability and failure to balance himself while in seclusion.
It wasn’t often in Mo Yuan’s eternal life. Very few but occasionally it happened when there was something too concerning in his brain. Too perturbing, too worrisome as nothing would silence the perpetual growing disharmony and discord within him. Bai Qian’s hell-like heavenly trial was the source of his utmost anxiety.
He tried to take his mind off her test and the God of War turned to another method of relaxation, which was his favorite hobby – making wine. Particularly, winemaking for someone special in mind.
Mo Yuan resolved to finish the vinification project, that he’d started with Bai Qian on the day of their grape stomping disaster. He didn’t know if she would genuinely drink it, considering they’d both fallen into the vat but it seemed like a goofy joke or gag gift for his adorable, sweet friend.
Perhaps for her next birthday or comfort and consolement. To possibly keep her drunk for weeks, months after her return from her abhorrent trial. Just thinking about her terrible calamity made Mo Yuan breathless, as if there was a massive stone resting on his chest.
In the midst of his steadily growing anxieties, Mo Yuan realized it was repeatedly happening or perhaps never truly stopped. Bai Qian was doing it again. She was wandering and roaming freely around his consciousness always. He hadn’t seen her for days and longed for her vivacious, bubbly presence.
There was an extremely high probability that Bai Qian was in the mortal world, and had already started her heavenly trial. And if his calculations were correct, she would be gone for two months or 60 days or 1,440 hours or 86,400 minutes or 5,184,000 seconds. Disconcerted and confused, Mo Yuan instantly stopped himself from wondered further mentally.
Why did he do the math? This very issue was a conundrum. Why wouldn’t Bai Qian leave his head and why was he thinking about her again? Also, if his thoughts were always full of her, perhaps his feeling were more than friendship. How absurd of him to even question and deny the obvious truth. Mo Yuan’s deep sentiments were much more profound than one of platonic camaraderie. He felt like a protective suitor and the compelling need to act on, to do something. Anything. Even if it was the very smallest movement because he couldn’t sit by idly and watch her suffer.
It was a fact and truth be told, Mo Yuan hadn’t had a restful night’s sleep ever since returning from Nine Heavens. He didn’t want to admit it but he was worried and her heavenly trial was profoundly troubling. He wondered if she would or could come back the same silly, youthful and lively woman after enduring such a brutal tormenting ordeal? How would she be able to overcome such pain, suffering, tragedy and revert to her previous self?
Mo Yuan debated and condemned himself for thinking in this manner but try as he may, he found himself challenging Si Ming’s motives because Donghua Dijun had a valid point. His offhanded comment and question if Si Ming purposely made Bai Qian’s trial more severe, due to his resentment towards Bai Zhi held some legality. Mo Yuan knew of many heavenly tests during his long life, but hers was by far one of the most brutal and painful he’d ever heard.
It undoubtedly wasn’t his role or place to save Bai Qian from her fate. Mo Yuan didn’t have any desires or intentions to intervene and make her heavenly trial a bed of roses. But he couldn’t help from wondering if he stopped just one minuscule event, perhaps her mortal life wouldn’t be so tragic.
Heavenly trials were designed to test one’s endurance, tenacity and she would still face inescapable obstacles regardless for ascension. But maybe one minor modification could create a small shift, and conceivably prevent a little of her miseries.
It was an entirely impulsive act and very unlike him, but Mo Yuan suddenly found himself in Celestial Heaven seeking out his younger brother, Ye Hua in Xiwu Palace. His shifty suspicious gaze was challenging when Mo Yuan created a pretense, as to why he needed information about Bai Qian’s heavenly trial. He thought his excuse was feasible, sensible but Ye Hua just snickered and laughed knowingly at him.
Ye Hua haughtily said, “Brother, just admit to being worried about her. I’ve heard and already know some of the terrible details of her trial. Si Ming has her story on lock down now. Finally, because words meant to be secrets traveled, got out and some immortals covertly planned to visit her in the brothel.”
“Damn that Si Ming’s lack of discretion! He truly disappoints me! That’s very concerning, Ye Hua. That cultivated immortals would even consider doing such an evil act!” Mo Yuan’s cheeks were abruptly red and blotchy from rage. He was infuriated and felt the sudden need to see her immediately.
Ye Hua came closer to Mo Yuan and revealed in a faint whisper that only his brother could hear, “Star Lord Si Ming made some precautionary changes like the location, although her story is unchanged and the same. I happen to know where she is because I was going to change one little event, in hopes it would alter her future in secrecy.”
Ye Hua wasn’t trivial as usual but instead, he was entirely serious and somber when he continued to confess, “Also, I was going to keep an eye on her just to make sure immortals didn’t take advantage of the situation. Bai Qian’s beauty, sex appeal is a man’s dream come true and could cause men to think with the wrong head.”
“Furthermore, if, no, when she becomes my life partner, I don’t want anyone else to have touched my beautiful, precious treasures! I have my eye on the prize and those are mine!” Ye Hua blatantly declared most boldly.
Playfully he smirked at the end of his declaration. Although Mo Yuan was highly aware, there was absolute truth to his presumptuous, brazen wishes.
At that very moment, Mo Yuan was thoroughly and profoundly proud of his younger brother. Granted, he didn’t like the idea of Ye Hua courting, claiming she was his partner and professing to be the owner of her treasures. But his protective intentions were noble and commendable.
Ye Hua also precisely knew what to say to make his older brother’s jealousy flare wildly, and he pushed that button most wantonly. Begrudgingly with some hesitation and control, because he genuinely wanted to give him a knuckle sandwich on his forehead. Mo Yuan somewhat affectionately patted his head for being a ‘good boy’.
Even if the truthful words never came out of his mouth, Mo Yuan inwardly felt thankful to have him as his younger twin. Ye Hua glanced up at his older twin with a giant grin on his face, and deliberately put his hand on top of Mo Yuan’s.
They were sharing a tender, loving brotherly moment until Ye Hua sneakily requested, “Brother, can I be the hero? I’d love to save her life! Perhaps, she’ll hug me tightly so I can feel her breasts against me or even better, a big, hot, wet, juicy French kiss with a lot of tongue for being her knight in shining armor! Or she might let me do both considering how affectionate she is with you!”
A loud astonished, disbelieving snort with furrowed brows over his silent scolding gaze was Mo Yuan’s prompt reply.
“It never hurts to ask. No regrets.” Ye Hua shrugged his shoulders, mumbled under his breath.
His taunting words triggered the utmost intensely competitive and aggressive silent staring, or blink off between brothers. Both held their firm stances. Their eyes fixed! Stares challenging and gazes locked on each other for a long time until Mo Yuan blinked first. Ye Hua held the reigning title as the ‘Stare, Blink and Lose’ Champion.
In defeat, Mo Yuan looked heavenward to avoid Ye Hua’s direct eye contact and softly confessed, “I like her. I enjoy Bai Qian’s company immensely.”
Ye Hua grinned knowingly and tortured him further, “Mo Yuan, don’t be so vague. You don’t have to feel shy or embarrassed about finding her pleasing. But exactly how do you like her? To what capacity? Because if it’s only platonic, then you should let me have a chance with Qian Qian. She and I would be good together and have some beautiful babies!”
Angrily Mo Yuan glared at him, drew his lower lip between his teeth most annoyed before dropping his gaze, and mumbled faintly under his breath, “Ye Hua, I have feelings for her and don’t call her Qian Qian.”
“What was that? I didn’t hear you. One more time. MO YUAN, FOR WHOM, DO YOU HAVE FEELINGS?!” Ye Hua dramatically held his hand up to his ear, turned his head towards Mo Yuan expectantly and waited with a devious grin on his devilish face.
His nostrils flared as Mo Yuan sharply exhaled like an angry bull. His mouth twitched, jaw tightened, gritted his teeth and matter of factually declared, “Alright! I have amorous feelings towards Bai Qian. Are you satisfied now?! Ye Hua, you’re extremely immature! It’s times like this when one can truly tell you’re only 50,000 years old!”
Mo Yuan’s rude comment about him being childish only made Ye Hua smirk more with delight. He loved tormenting his brother without mercy. Smiling slyly, he snickered, put his lips close to Mo Yuan’s ear and secretly told him where to find mortal Bai Qian.
The undisclosed location of Bai Qian’s heavenly trial was a vast peach orchard, with endless tracks of flourishing fruit trees. The tree-lined rows and walkways neatly planted in lush and fertile soil. The grass between the plants was so green, dense, vividly eye-catching that it looked fake and artificial. It was as rich and grassy as the immortal grassland on Kunlun Mountain. In the farm, workers toiled in the afternoon haze and gently harvested the mature, sunlight ripen fruit. It was late spring in the mortal world and it’s time to collect earth’s bounty.
In the midst of the many peach trees, Mo Yuan spotted her tiny body immediately and she was playing contently with dolls. An adorable little mortal girl perhaps three or four years old. She had full, chubby, rosy cheeks and two braids in her hair. Playthings in her small hands like dollies made of ragged cotton. She was holding a toy in each hand, moving them around in a lively animated way and happily talking to herself.
Mo Yuan chuckled to himself because he only saw Bai Qian as a newborn and adulthood, but she was a precious little thing at her current age.
To execute his plan of action, he surveyed the area thoroughly and saw the targeted lake far beyond the orchard. Mo Yuan planned to save her from drowning instead of the husband fated to die. Both he and Ye Hua put their heads together, as to determined that this single act would change her life completely. If mortal Bai Qian never met her husband, then wouldn’t there be a high probability she could avoid a lifetime of prostitution?
He was still looking off into the distance as he studied and mapped out the field when Mo Yuan suddenly felt a little tug on his clothes…it was she. Mortal Bai Qian stared up at him with her huge eyes and she was actively sucking on her thumb. She tugged at his garment again but this time with more force until he finally bent down to her eye level.
She didn’t say a word but silently pulled her finger out of her mouth, curiously grabbed his earlobe, rubbed it between her thumb and index finger. Mo Yuan’s ear felt wet with the saliva on her pruned thumb. Mortal Bai Qian was a thumb sucker and when she smiled, he chuckled to see many gaps because she didn’t have all her teeth yet. Maybe five at the most in her toddler’s mouth.
“Lifen!” A man’s voice shouted out in the distance.
Her eyes grew wide and said in her baby toned chirp, “Papa.”
Mortal Bai Qian’s name was Lifen (beautiful fragrance). Smiling knowingly to himself because her name was entirely fitting, Mo Yuan watched as she swiftly turned towards her father’s voice. With big round eyes, she abruptly ran away, but briefly stopped once more to glance back at him before vanishing between the trees.
Mo Yuan’s first meeting with mortal Bai Qian now called Lifen was when she was a three-year-old toddler.
The next time he saw Lifen, she was with a group of young girls her age perhaps thirteen or fourteen years old. In tow a small gathering of shy lovesick boys following a few paces behind. The cluster of teenage girls shyly glanced back at the boys, giggled and whispered secretively before breaking out into a chorus of loud laughter.
Starting to lose her child-like innocent appearance, and in the first stages of blooming into a beautiful young woman like a flower, she was there. More angled but flushed with becoming color cheeks, smooth even-toned skin and long, silky, dark hair braids tied back with red ribbons. Big, gorgeous, intelligent brown eyes round, bright, full of life and a feminine laugh that tickled his ears.
His second sighting of Lifen was when she was a thirteen-year-old teenager, and three years away from her ill-fated meeting with her husband.
With clear purpose and intention, Mo Yuan watched only from a distance. He knew too much involvement would alter her fate too drastically, and less interaction with her life would be best. His actions needed to be minimal and covert so nobody in Nine Heavens saw or heard him.
However quite unexpectedly, Lifen abruptly turned her eyes in Mo Yuan’s direction. She didn’t smile but stared at him questioningly for a long while, before turning her attention back to her friends and went back to giggling at the boys. She did, nevertheless, spin around one last time, met his gaze and smiled gently before fading into the distance. The girls’ peals of laughter carried in the air long after he’d lost sight of them.
Now Mo Yuan knew Lifen was fated to meet her husband when she was sixteen years old but wasn’t aware of the specific date until Ye Hua intervened. He purposely had his third uncle Lian Song derail Star Lord Si Ming, kept him busy while he rummaged through his scrolls and found Bai Qian’s story. From Ye Hua, Mo Yuan now knew the day and exact time of her drowning.
All he needed to do was delay or prevent her ill-fated future husband’s arrival, and save her life instead without the use of his magic.
To be continued…..