Somehow his younger twin knew his question before Mo Yuan even uttered a single word. Ye Hua seemed to be inside his confused, disoriented head and well aware of the reason behind his sudden trip to Celestial Heaven.
The visit was Mo Yuan’s last resort, the final chance to learn of Lifen’s location and whereabouts. Although unfortunately, his excursion was idle, waste of time and in vain. It was as successful as his fruitless exploration and search in Qingqiu. It merely boosted, raised his already intense anxiety, thus creating more confusion, further worry and an overwhelming sense of helplessness. In all his life, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt so utterly defeated, lost and without direction.
Ye Hua’s sedated tone shared his brother’s concerns as he explained, “Si Ming has lost mortal Bai Qian. Somehow, someway, she just vanished from the bordello and everyone. I do mean everyone is currently searching for her everywhere.”
“Since he can’t find her anywhere. Si Ming has been following the Fox Clan’s movements like a hawk.” Ye Hua folded his slender hands on his desk and exhaled slowly through his nose.
His twin’s explanation caused Mo Yuan’s full brow to furrow and he sounded tired, exhausted but outraged when he demanded, “How does that happen?! How does one vanish into thin air?! How can he lose someone during their heavenly trial especially if that someone is a mortal? Star Lord Si Ming is the writer of mortal fates and controls their destiny!”
“Furthermore, why is he wasting his time and watching the Fox Clan? Instead of looking for her?!” Mo Yuan’s genuine frustration was evident and he was swiftly losing his usual calm composure.
Ye Hua moved closer to his brother. Their faces mere inches apart and whispered, “You see, Si Ming originally thought they had found her and were protecting her! However, the Fox Emperor, his sons and his men are frantically looking for her all over the mortal realm.”
“If anything, their search has drastically intensified after hearing of her missing. Their frenzied actions show their pure desperation to find her and bring her home.” Ye Hua described and shared what he knew which wasn’t much.
Mo Yuan closed his eyes, dropped his head toward the ground, sighed deeply and said most regretfully, “I shouldn’t have left her! It was stupid of me to be so reckless! I missed her by just two days at the brothel! 48 hours!”
“What was I thinking?! I should have hidden her first before I returned to Kunlun Mountain that day. I should have…”
His words of self-blame and remorse trailed off before he sadly added, “Ye Hua, Lifen, mortal Bai Qian, believed I left her behind and abandoned her on purpose. The many and numerous letters; she composed several messages and various love verses while waiting for me. It breaks my heart that she went from calling me her husband back to her Shifu!”
“I don’t know how she possibly had the time to write so many letters and poems while working. I don’t know if she even slept or ate and the wicked things she was forced to do against her will. I imagine in my head and they haunt me endlessly. Ye Hua, I feel as if I’m losing my mind!”
Profound anxiety made it so he couldn’t sit still for even a second. Tensely he jumped up most stressful. Mo Yuan swiftly paced the full length of Ye Hua’s room restlessly and declared.
He stated, “She’s sick! The bordello owner said she was starting to show signs of an illness.”
“That bastard, Si Ming, wrote in a most terrible sexually transmitted disease into her already cruel, and wicked fate that contributed to her death. Do you recollect what age she was supposed to die? Her age at her mortal death?” Mo Yuan’s tone of voice was closer to an angry growl when he mentioned Si Ming’s name resentfully.
Mo Yuan forcefully slammed his mighty fist into the side of the wall, placed his forehead against it most defeated and stated, “I can’t think of anything else and all I see is her dying alone from illness in the streets! What am I suppose to do now? What can I do for her?”
The extreme level of agitation and stress induced tension in Mo Yuan was something new, Ye Hua saw for the first time. It wasn’t like his calm, confident older brother to lose his temper or become so impatient, and he was at a total loss how to best console him.
“Mo Yuan, mortal Bai Qian was due to die young in her forties due to the severity of her disease. She’s now already 24 years old and her mortal life is halfway completed. Waiting for her return is your only option.”
“Bai Qian will be back in less than a month or another month at the most. All you can do is wait for her and explain what happened that day. She’ll understand.” Ye Hua stood, tenderly patted Mo Yuan’s back to support and encourage him.
His heavy sigh reflected his utter exasperation when Mo Yuan exhaled and stated with absolute resolve, “If Bai Qian comes back mentally harmed like her brother, Bai Yi. I’m going to kill Si Ming with my bare hands!”
Fiercely Mo Yuan stormed out of Ye Hua’s room, and felt as if he were carrying the weight of the world on his broad shoulders. After his trip to Nine Heavens, Mo Yuan returned to Qingqiu daily for weeks straight, and never saw a glimpse of Bai Zhi or any of his sons.
As Ye Hua suggested all he could do was wait for her return, but every lament filled drawn out minute felt like a lifetime. Those extended minutes turned into long drawn days. Those long days changed to long spun months and strangely not a single word from anyone, Bai Zhi or any member of the Fox Clan.
He delayed, paused as long as he could but unable to remain still any longer. Mo Yuan went to Qingqiu again after two unbearable months. Bai Qian should have been back by now and was astonished to hear she had returned. But instead of coming to him, she’d gone straight into seclusion immediately after coming back from her heavenly trial.
Hearing of her return should have consoled him, but it did the very opposite and filled Mo Yuan’s heart with pure dread. Had her mortal life dramatically turned as Si Ming wrote and was it as traumatic as Mo Yuan expected? Had her experience been so agonizing that she needed to go into seclusion immediately, without first coming to see or meet him?
Was she resentful of his unexplained departure with the disturbing, tormenting and terrible events that subsequently happened after his leave? Was Bai Qian in a state of mental anguish, depression and trauma as her older brother, Bai Yi, after his trial? Would she also drink Zhe Yan’s amnesia potion and would she forget about her time with Mo Yuan? This tragic, unfortunate assumption was plausible, highly likely especially since she believed he’d abandoned her first.
Mo Yuan left another message with Migu as he’d done for months, and sadly returned to Kunlun Mountain with a heavy heart. If she didn’t want to see him, then that was a decision he would have to respect and he decided to wait until she came to him. In all fairness and honestly what other choice did he have?
He had none and another two and a half years passed, and still not even a single word from the Fox Clan until Zhe Yan appeared unexpectedly. Mo Yuan was ignoring him as usual but then Zhe Yan pulled out a package of familiar odd, strange blob shaped moon cakes that suddenly caught his sight. Because only one person made those and it was Lifen or Bai Qian.
“Where did you get those, Zhe Yan?!” Mo Yuan couldn’t hide his excitement, asked in a loud booming voice that startled Zhe Yan and he choked on the cake in his mouth.
Uncontrollably he continued to gag and cough until he’d finished chewing on the pastry, before Zhe Yan yelled back furiously, “Tuzi, you almost made me choke to death! I saw Xiao Wu before I came here and she gave them to me. Why are you so curious? Would you like one?”
Zhe Yan asked annoyed but gasped aloud because there was nobody else there and he was alone. Mo Yuan was gone and rudely left without saying a word or goodbye!
Mo Yuan found her and Bai Qian was sitting on the front steps of the Fox den when she spotted him. He ran towards her nearly breathless, his worried, sharp gaze did a quick but careful visual once over to make sure she’s safe and unharmed.
Radiantly she beamed and roughly punched his arm before asking in a cheery chirp-like voice, “Mo Yuan, my friend, what are you doing here? Should I call my Father and let him know you’re here? Or did you come all this way just to see me and if so, how did you know I was back from my heavenly trial?”
Giggling giddy and most delighted, Bai Qian dramatically performed a slow spin around, to display her new elevated status and proudly declared, “My friend, Mo Yuan! Check out my brand new aura because I’m the only High Goddess in the world!”
Her smile vanished, now she side eyed him and scolded, “Had you some manners or common sense, my thoughtless friend. You should have brought along some fine wines so we could have celebrated my new rank in style!”
Mo Yuan’s knees went weak because she had forgotten him and their time together. He wasn’t her husband or Shifu but back to being her friend. He was barely conscious of the rain now falling from the sky until he saw her glance up first.
Bai Qian raised her open palm and smiled while catching the drops of rain. She said, “Mo Yuan, my friend, did you know one of my biggest regret in life is not having a lover on rainy days?! It would be nice to have someone to hug, snuggle and cozy up to on a day like this. Wouldn’t you agree? Wouldn’t that be sooooo romantic?”
Batting her long, dark eyelashes flirtatiously, Bai Qian playfully added, “Mo Yuan, my friend, would you like to kiss me?”
Then wholly pucked her full, pouty and irresistible mouth toward him. Mo Yuan said nothing. Not a single word but swiftly wrapped his powerful arms around her waist, pulled her to him and planted a heated, passionate kiss right on her puckered lips.
Her full lips felt warm and soft but Bai Qian’s body stiffened as she jumped back and out of his reach. She swiftly touched her mouth in total disbelief, gawked at him with giant, rounded eyes and stammered nervously.
She stuttered in confusion, “Mo… Mo Yuan! Were you about to French kiss me? Was that your tongue that almost went into my mouth?!”
He was speechless, blushing wildly and struggling to find his voice when she declared with firm resolve, “Mo Yuan Oppa! Slow down! I’m Bai Qian not Lifen! You need to chill out and relax so we can talk about a couple of things first.”
“You remember me?! Didn’t you drink Zhe Yan’s amnesia potion? You still remember me or our time together?!”
Mo Yuan suddenly sounded excited, relieved and questioned, “Why didn’t you send word or come to me directly after your trial? I’ve been worried sick about you!”
Immediately she bickered back, “I just returned from my trial yesterday, and I purposely sent Zhe Yan to Kunlun Mountain with my moon cakes! I figured you would recognize them and come to me!”
“Two and a half years have passed since your mortal death! I know because Migu told me you were back and went right into seclusion! Now you’re telling me that your heavenly trial ended just yesterday. How?! That’s over 912 mortal years! That’s impossible!” Mo Yuan’s perplexed tone matched his confused expression perfectly.
Playfully Bai Qian smirked, smiled in a way that showed her dimples and perfect teeth just like Lifen. She fully pushed out her pouty bottom lip, dramatically placed both hands on her hips as Zhe Yan often did and mischievously declared.
She stated, “Mo gēge, I have a story to tell you but you may want to have a seat because it’s a doozy. It’s a humdinger of a tale that’s going to knock your socks off! Or perhaps in your case, your golden dragon horns might explode right off your head!”
Giggling most impishly, Bai Qian gently led Mo Yuan by the hand towards the steps, forced him to sit and begin to tell him the Story of Lifen with a spirited glimmer-like twinkling in her dark eyes.
To be continued…..