The reason was just that, Bai Qian was his friend. Or it was because she was Bai Zhi’s only daughter. For his recent out of character behaviors, these were the causes or at least that’s what he told himself in the beginning. Or perhaps that was what Mo Yuan wanted to believe. Conceivably, at the very start, his intentions were much vaguer and not resolute. Therefore he restricted himself, always exercised caution and tried his very best not to interfere with her heavenly trial.
However, as time passed, he and Lifen created a real emotional bond, a much stronger connection, an actual amorous relationship. The neutral, rational and judicious side of him gave way to another facet of himself. Discovering another aspect of himself, an absolute stranger Mo Yuan never knew existed. And that was a chivalrous man in love who wanted to protect and shield the owner of his heart.
Once Mo Yuan’s emotional feelings, intentions towards Bai Qian became concrete so did his desires to keep her safe regardless of whatever, and all consequence that might follow. Never, ever would he sit by idly and watch her endure or suffer any of the horrific miseries written by Si Ming. He loved her and nobody was going to harm her while he was nearby.
Mo Yuan was prepared to end her trial early and knew his self-determined decision, could come off as being bit male chauvinist even though that wasn’t the case. Not in the slightest and that assumption was the furthest from the truth. It wasn’t because he believed she couldn’t endure such a test. He never questioned Bai Qian’s strength, but it was because she was a human being with a beating heart, a living soul, and human emotions. He deemed it that no man or woman would come out of such a torturous experience without suffering some post-traumatic shock. Even he would undergo the aftershock of such a tormenting ordeal.
Her resentment. It was always in the back of Mo Yuan’s mind, but that was a risk he was willing to take. The thought, the worry, the plausible possibility she would begrudge him for holding her back from ascension to High Goddess, was always there. However, he refused to let her disastrous and harrowing heavenly trial destroy the spirited, joyful, carefree, innocent woman within her. He knew if she’d endured the initially written mortal fate, Bai Qian the immortal would never be the same.
There was, however, one method that could guarantee her safety as well as ascension, and it wasn’t cheating but merely bending the regulations. A first for him in his long life after following rules emphatically, he came to realize some rules were intended to be altered. While falling in love with Bai Qian, Mo Yuan the God who only spoke truths learned how to lie. The eldest son of Heavenly Father who follows and regulated laws for others learned how to bend the rules. The only time he acted recklessly in his life was for her.
So, while in the immortal realm, many believed Mo Yuan to be in seclusion but in reality, he was in the mortal world with her. And he took it upon himself to be her protective guardian. To shield her from any misfortune, he decided to stay with her for the entire duration of her heavenly trial. This way, she would be safe and still ascend to High Goddess. As Lifen the mortal grew older with age, he planned to use one of Zhe Yan’s concealment spells to make himself appear elderly, and protect her until her natural mortal death.
The man who once foolishly told himself that he wasn’t trying to make her test a bed of roses, instead made her a bed of peach blossoms. A heavenly place for himself and Bai Qian to become new lovers. Mo Yuan decided to break his longstanding vow of celibacy with the mortal version of her, Lifen.
As a new couple in the initial process of becoming lovers. In the very beginning, the most innocent, the sweetest, the most curious and exciting stage of intimacy, their lips were the first to become familiarized with each other. For countless hours and nights, they just tenderly held each other with their mouths learning the feel and the taste of each other’s lips. Their kisses varied from playful little love peck to intensely deep arousing tongue rolling kisses, as Mo Yuan explored, indulged and drank in the candied flavor of Lifen’s full luscious lips. Her beautiful mouth. Lapping up the newfound euphoric sweetness of her youthful skin with his tongue, and learning the taste of her which was as addictive as a drug.
The exquisitely ecstatic and exhilarating manner in which best friends become a couple, who become lovers happens only once in a relationship. Therefore, Mo Yuan didn’t want to rush a single sweet second and instead, savored every delicious moment. There was an indescribable joy in introducing Lifen to bodily pleasure but first, he wanted to show her the blissful rapture of loving with just the heart. Because he loved her with all his heart, and her chaste affections gave him more pleasure than all the sexual encounters he had in the past.
Being able to feel ecstasy without removing their clothes was exciting, and only created more heat, more tension, more desire between them. Many nights they laid in bed together studied, touched and kissed each other’s facial features, hands, fingers for hours by firelight. Mo Yuan precisely knew how many eyelashes she had, down to the little ones underneath because that’s how carefully, how detailed he drank in the lovely sight of his Lifen repeatedly.
While she slept in his arms all night long, often he just stayed awake, admired, studied her face and wondered if their children would take after him or her. The very thought of fathering children with her made him insanely giddy. After hundreds of thousands of years of silent searching, he’d finally found her and it was Bai Qian of Qingqiu who was currently Lifen. She was the one. Mo Yuan wasn’t slightly in love. He was in head over heels! Madly! Deeply! Totally and wholly blinded by his endless, infinite love for her.
It was now August, and the peach farm was beginning to turn into the many beautiful shades of fall. During their first month after Mo Yuan promised to stay with her every night, to protect her from her abusive father when Lifen said, “Mo gēge, I wish we could go into town and celebrate the moon festival instead of studying tonight.”
Lifen pouted by pushing out her bottom lip. She yanked out a handful of grass, threw it up in the air like confetti and watched it rain down on her lap. They sat under the stars, by the entrance of the little cottage that once belonged to her grandparents.
Mo Yuan raised his brow in false disapproval at her attempt to get out of studying. It came to his attention; lately, Lifen didn’t want to further her education as much and preferred to frolic instead. As much as he desired to indulge her, the worry of running into her father was always in the back of his mind. She somehow could read his mind just by reading his facial expressions, even though they were almost nonexistence.
Swiftly she jumped up excitedly, presented a man’s outfit for him to see and declared, “I’ll dress as a man and nobody will recognize me. Let me change and I’ll show you!”
It was apparently obvious, she’d been planning this from the start and had an outfit ready behind her back. With that, she excitedly ran into the cottage and came out a few minutes later dressed as a man, but she still had her two long braids in her hair. She did a turn around for Mo Yuan to inspect but he side eyed her, rubbed his chin and made the disbelieving expression, to show that her disguise wasn’t very convincing.
Dramatically with full theatrics, Lifen pulled one of her braids under her nose in a demonstration and eagerly exclaimed, “I Just need a mustache and beard! Then I’ll look like a true man! We’ll appear like brothers!”
Lifen then picked up the brush, dipped it into the ink, promptly painted a black handlebar mustache and silly beard on her face.
He started to chuckle at her, but she grew somewhat earnest and asked without a hint of a smile, “Mo gēge, does my beard need to be longer?”
She was dead serious and utterly adorable. Once again, her vivacious enthusiasm and happiness were entirely contagious. Mo Yuan couldn’t refuse her anything. He made the subtle hand motion for her to sit in front of him, undid her braids, ran his long fingers through and fixed her silky hair into a topknot while Lifen waited patiently. When he was complete, she popped up, impatiently yanked him up and half dragged him into a busy town. An amazing feat considering how much he disliked crowds, and he knew if Zhe Yan ever found out about their excursion, he’d never hear the end of it. Ever.
The brightly lit village glowed with the many lanterns overhead. The feel of celebration and festival was alive and jovial in the air along with the music. Lifen was like a child. She eagerly ran up to a merchant’s table full of hairpins, jewelry, mirrors and women’s shoes. Gingerly with her fingertips, she caressed and touched everything. Her eyes were big and round as she picked up hair ornaments, held them by her head, forgetting she was in men’s attire with painted mustache and beard.
When a group of wide eyed young girls gawked at her in confusion, Lifen intentionally deepened her voice and said straight faced, “These would look lovely on you ladies. I merely stopped to admire your beauty.”
Her ridiculous acting made Mo Yuan chuckle and little did she know, while her back was turned and talking to the girls. He covertly bought everything she touched, and slipped them into his pockets to surprise her later. She didn’t notice anything and was overly excited as she pulled him by the hand. They walked toward the people selling moon-cakes for the festival. Lifen had a comment about everyone’s cakes as to why, they fell short in comparison to her most delicious and highly addictive ones. She also made an offhanded comment about selling two hundred pieces, to an unknown man in the neighboring town. A special order for the festival. He didn’t think that odd at all because he’d grown to love her baking. Once again he was a total goner for her.
They strolled further and came upon a busy game stall, with three bullseyes nailed against a wooden back wall. The objective of the competition was to shoot an arrow through the bullseye. The player paid for three arrows hence a chance to win different awards. This game caught Lifen’s attention immediately because of the grand prize. The reward for hitting all three targets in the center were two simple, matching, emerald colored jade rings. The vendor proudly displayed the jade rings for all to see, and her big chestnut hued eyes went round with interest, as she watched all the other men fail to hit a single target.
“Would you like those rings?” Mo Yuan asked in his calm voice.
She looked up at him and smiled brightly that all her perfect teeth showed. She pulled his hand to go and said, “Mo gēge, you’re a teacher. See all those mighty strong men? They couldn’t do it so I don’t expect a teacher to know anything about archery.”
He didn’t even reply but wordlessly stepped up, paid the fee and heard Lifen advise most thoughtfully, “Oppa, be careful and don’t hurt yourself with that bow. You might pull a muscle or something so just stop now!”
Ignoring Lifen’s genuine concerns, Mo Yuan balanced the arrows in his flat palm. As expected they were faulty. Purposely weighted in the back and hollow in the front, making it impossible for them to penetrate the target. The arrows would bounce back after the initial impact. It was a fundamental law of physics. The contest was designed with the sole purpose of nobody ever winning. The game was a sham.
Yes, perhaps Mo Yuan was showing off a bit for Lifen but he took hold of all three arrows, placed one between his index and third fingers. The next shaft went between his third and fourth finger, while the last one in the middle of his fourth fingers and pinky. Effortlessly because he is the God of War, he held all three metal tipped bolts at once, pulled the string back on the weapon like it was nothing at all. Abruptly turning the bow horizontally, his hand released, causing all three arrows to rapidly fly in a blur and explode through all three bullseyes at once! Not only did the darts go through the targets. The sheer intensity of force from his physical strength, caused the back wall to fall to the ground instantly, and his calm facial expression never changed. The crowd gasped in awe and shock. She gawked unblinkingly with her mouth slacked at his hidden skill.
A fantastic and unbelievable achievement but as incredible was his actions, Lifen’s exuberant reaction caused everyone to stop dead in their tracks. Euphorically full of almost hysteria-like excitement, she jumped up and down screaming with rapture as loud as possible.
Hollering at the top of her lungs, “My gēge won! Now we have matching couple rings like a married couple!”
Lifen was thoroughly ecstatic and without even once considering her surroundings, after all, they were out with many people around them. She then wrapped her arms around his neck and openly kissed Mo Yuan on the lips. Suddenly the crowd became still and all seemed to be holding their breaths.
The reason was evident because even under normal circumstances, her excessive public display of affection would have been hugely shocking and controversial. However, it was much more unexpected since she was in men’s clothing with a mustache, beard and a topknot. Hence, everyone around them gasped and gawked in horror at her lewd and indecent behavior. They turned their judgmental, disapproving gazes on Lifen and Mo Yuan since in their eyes two men just kissed in public.
She wasn’t the slight bit fazed by the negative responses. The astonished crowd and their shocked reactions didn’t deter Lifen, who immediately dragged Mo Yuan into a dark alley. Promptly following a quick visual inspection to make sure they were alone. She stood on her very tiptoes, affectionately wrapped her arms around his neck and firmly pressed her lips to his. His blatant display of physical strength and vigor, apparently excited and aroused her tremendously. Try as he may, he couldn’t help but snicker. Because never before in his long eternal life had he been kissed out in public. In a dark secluded alley by someone with a more significant mustache, and beard than himself.
To be continued…..