Guests were a rare and uncommon occurrence in the Fox Den and Bai Qian saw a stranger with her father. It was the broad, muscular backside of someone she didn’t recognize. However, when the mysterious man turned to his side, his striking profile she identified and knew immediately.
It was the older twin brother and eldest son of Heavenly Father. It was High God Mo Yuan visiting her father, and he was strolling casually beside him with his hands held behind his back. Bai Qian noticed even from a distance, High God Mo Yuan’s mannerisms were calm, peaceful and gentle.
He had a distinct way and characteristic about him that exuded warmth and kindness. It only fitted since he was the renowned Shifu, and Master of Kunlun Mountain that he had a fatherly aspect about him.
Throughout her entire life, she’d understood and heard all about her father’s close association, bond with the High God but never saw him in Qingqiu. She stood at a slight distance and watched their remarkably friendly exchange most curiously.
Bai Qian overheard her father thanking him for bringing more of his exceptional wine. High God Mo Yuan said nothing in return nor did he look in her direction, as she openly lingered in her bedroom doorway observing them. She also noticed the many jugs on the table, and she recognized the bottles due to their unique branding. Each container had a special marking carved into the glass.
There was a heart etched in the center of every jar, and she never knew the excellent vintage was High God Mo Yuan’s creation. She merely mistook it for Zhe Yan’s because it tasted so similar if not identical to her birthday wine. Bai Qian waited in absolute anticipation for the men to disappear out of sight. To plunge right in and start drinking the incredible, outstanding fruity drink until her father abruptly spun around her way and loudly scolded her.
Directly he pointed to the containers of wines and warned with a stern expression, “Qian Qian! Last time I didn’t get to sample Mo Yuan’s wine. Not a single drop because of you! This time don’t even think about touching a single bottle! Do you hear me?!”
Her father’s chiding caused Bai Qian to blush wildly. It was somewhat embarrassing getting reprimanded by her father in front of others. After all, she was a 180,000 years old High Goddess and not a child. The slight unreadable smile on High God Mo Yuan’s face caused her red cheeks to burn, as they crimsoned and flushed with color that swiftly moved down her neck. Something about the tender way he looked at her made her more bashful than usual.
Bai Qian’s voice sounded tiny and weak but grumpy when she just replied, “Yes, Father. I won’t touch them.”
But the moment the men turned their backs, Bai Qian made a facial expression of pure annoyance and blatantly rolled her eyes. She openly sneered and made faces at her father behind his back but quickly stopped, when High God Mo Yuan abruptly turned towards her way. Her father was gone so it could have appeared as if she were making faces at High God Mo Yuan.
Bai Qian froze, blushed deeper scarlet and nervously wrung her hands in front of her body. Strangely High God Mo Yuan seemed amused by her. He chuckled faintly under his breath before he wordlessly and covertly so her father wouldn’t notice signaled, waved his fingertips towards her. Magically a couple of bottles of his wine appeared at her feet.
To her surprised expression, he just smiled, winked somewhat playfully and then followed her father into his room in silence. How odd she thought to herself as Bai Qian swiftly grabbed the wine, nervously ran into her room and hid the bottles.
Perplexed she questioned why did he secretly give her anything, but most of all what was the meaning behind that smile and wink? Bai Qian was far from being an expert of love, courting or affection from a man but it felt like subtle flirting? Was High God Mo Yuan flirting with her? No, that would be absurd! She was merely his friend’s daughter and he was showing innocent kindness. Or was he?
Either way, the feeling was unnerving and Bai Qian left Qingqiu fast. She rushed to the mortal realm so she wouldn’t have to bump into him again. She didn’t know what it was but being around High God Mo Yuan made her feel moderately nervous, even perhaps confused and slightly excited.
However, the most unusual and peculiar sensation was as if they’d met before, or a better description would be High God Mo Yuan didn’t feel like a stranger to her. An odd and strange sense of déjà vu overcame her.
Bai Qian privately wondered if they could have possibly met during her heavenly trial, and if so then what was their relationship? Or was she simply over thinking things again as usual?
Bai Qian jumped startled by A-Li’s sudden and unexpected greeting. As usual, she was enjoying her stories and performances at the tea house in the mortal world, when the young man hollered at her.
Bai Qian blatantly rolled her eyes and complained in a nasal voice, “Riceball, why are you bothering me again? And how did you know I would be here today?”
A-Li pulled out a chair with his foot, spun it around so that he sat straddling with his elbows crossed up on the top of the chair’s backboard. He slightly hunched and slouched over while making a somber facial expression.
He explained disgruntled, “QQ, I came today especially to treat and pay you back for the other day but do you see those guys?”
A-Li nudged his head towards a table of men playing cards, frowned and confessed, “I lost all my money gambling at that table so you’ll have to buy the wine today. But next time, I swear, I’ll go all out and pay for everything!”
“You don’t have to pay me back, Riceball. You can leave.” Bai Qian said indifferently and shifted her attention back to the play now in progress.
Openly offended A-Li huffed, hit the center of his broad chest with one fist and exclaimed proudly, “I’m a man who ALWAYS pays and collects my debts! I’m rather particular about keeping score! I don’t like to owe anyone and I don’t allow others to owe me. I always collect all outstanding debts!”
She attempted to ignore his presence and focused back on the actors but could hear A-Li drinking, then finishing all her wine. But that wasn’t the most shocking part; he summoned the waiter over for more. The absolute audacity of the brazen youth made her gawk at him in pure disbelief.
His bold and shameless behavior was bewildering when Bai Qian spun around to observe A-Li; he was wantonly staring at a table of beautiful young mortal women, winking and flirting with the entire bunch. He was charming and the women were all giggling.
As Bai Qian watched in silent dismay, he even instructed the waiter to send over some bottles of the best house wines, and tell the girls they were from him. A-Li directed the server to put it all on her tab without prior permission.
She challenged bewildered, “How does a boy your age become as gutsy as you, Riceball? From first impression and what I’ve heard about him, your father doesn’t seem like he’d be so rude. So you don’t get it from him! Not only do you owe me money! You drink all my wine, order more then have the gall to send some to a table of unknown women and I’m paying?!”
“Wait a minute, I never even asked you to join me today!” Bai Qian demanded but her tone sounded light, playful because she was laughing out of pure bewilderment. He was enigmatic to the point of absurdity.
A-Li winked at her and it curiously reminded her of High God Mo Yuan. He grinned broadly in a way that showed all his perfect white teeth, and A-Li was an incredibly handsome young man. His dashing smile made him even more appealing due to the matching dimples on his cheeks. Bai Qian thought again how much A-Li looked like her older brother, Bai Zhen.
His masculine voice had a smoothness, but his youthful confidence made him sound jaunty when he taunted back, “I take after my mother! And surely the Queen of Qingqiu isn’t that cheap and stingy to start a dispute over small money? QQ, you’re filthy and stinking rich! Share a little with me and I’ll be your best friend for life!”
“I have enough friends, Riceball, and I don’t need anymore!” Bai Qian casually but firmly responded, and turned her concentration to the play but felt his hand gently touches hers.
She flinched, yanked back her hands and dropped, hid them in her lap when A-Li teased, “QQ, what you need is a handsome man in your life.”
Bai Qian’s eyes fluttered open most alarmed. Nervously she blinked rapidly and half shouted, “I don’t date babies or minors! Go home to your nanny, drink your milk bottle and take your nap!”
Amused and surprised, A-Li’s dark eyes grew huge as he snorted before busting out into hysterical laughter. He immediately slapped his knee, wiped the tears from his eyes and tried in vain to compose himself but without success.
A-Li chuckled at her for a few more minutes before he shouted back, “Not me, QQ! I told you that I’m not into OLD maids but what do you think about my father? He’s handsome and the women and goddesses everywhere go crazy for him!”
“He’s too young. Isn’t he only 90,000 years old? I’m much older than him.” Bai Qian answered indifferently and looked annoyed entirely to find the wine bottle empty, when she went to pour herself a glass.
A-Li retorted most earnest, “QQ, these days it’s the fad and cool to date younger men! Dating my father will make people think OLD QQ of Qingqiu is hip! You could be a cougar…fox or whatever. You know what I mean.”
“Not interested!” Bai Qian mumbled aloof and signaled the waiter to bring more wine.
A-Li tried another approach, “If my father is too young then what about my uncle, Mo Yuan? He’s good looking for a relic. I don’t know if he can still perform husbandry duties due to his age, but he could teach you things like strategic planning and the classics. Do you enjoy studying?”
A-Li stated and then playfully threw a sunflower seed up in the air, caught it between his teeth. He displayed it to Bai Qian and patiently waited for her answer while wagging his eyebrows suggestively.
“Too old! He’s my father’s age. Are you insane?! Studying? Me?! Pftttt! Also, he seems rather boring.” Bai Qian grumbled under her breath, and poured herself a glass of wine from the new bottle placed down by the server.
A-Li exhaled sharply so his cheeks puffed out and taunted, “Are you a White Nine-tailed Fox or Goldilocks?! A woman your age shouldn’t be so picky! Your choices are limited! QQ, don’t you want to get married?”
“Also, you decided my uncle was boring from the single time you saw him in Ten Miles? What are you a mind reader? What vibe did you get from my father?”
A-Li questioned as he casually threw another sunflower seed into the air, and caught it as before when Bai Qian responded impassively, “Your father, I’ve only seen once but he seems very depressing. Maybe it’s his all black attire. Something about him reminds me of a little black snake.”
“Your uncle, I’ve seen twice because he came to Qingqiu today. He and my father are extremely close friends. I guess he’s been making wine for my father for years. The alcohol I usually drink before my father even gets a sip.”
“Anyway, High God Mo Yuan dropped off more of his vintage and came to play chess with my father. They’re probably still playing now since I left as soon as he appeared.” Bai Qian said as she nonchalantly crossed her arms over her chest.
A-Li choked and his voice went up several octaves as he demanded with narrowed eyes suspiciously, “My uncle has made wine for Gramps, I mean your father and he came to Qingqiu to play chess?! Does he come often? How many times has he come to see you?”
“Riceball, he was visiting my father not me. It was only the second time I’ve ever seen him and the first time I’ve seen him in Qingqiu. But I’ve been drinking his wine for years. It tastes very similar to the one Zhe Yan makes for my birthday. Plus why are you so nosey?!” Bai Qian spoke as she rounded her thumb and second fingers, and struck her remaining fingers in a continuous tapping sequence on the tabletop.
“Look, I’m not interested in a husband. I’m NEVER getting married so stop playing cupid and go elsewhere. You don’t need to pay me back for the other day or today. It’s a gift. Consider it a donation from an elder.” Bai Qian intentionally spun around and ignored him. She turned her back to him altogether until she heard A-Li indifferently but bluntly stated.
A-Li declared in a matter of factually tone of voice, “QQ, did you know people don’t believe that you’re beautiful? Many think it’s a rumor that you’re unattractive, ugly and hideous in real life. Most have never met or seen you so they don’t know. But I heard many rumors that you’re not married because nobody has ever asked you. No man has ever wanted to marry you. That’s what 75% of the immortals think and believe.”
In full shock, Bai Qian’s jaw slacked and she was speechless. Utterly dumbfounded, stunned and unable to pronounce or state a single word. It was as if she were struck by lightning. That’s how she precisely appeared as she blinked rapidly in a state of absolute disarray.
A-Li suggested politely, “QQ, close your mouth before a bug flies in there. One definite way to debunk all the rumors about you looking like an appalling troll, would be if you dated my father. He’s quite handsome for an old guy but let me take that back.”
He grabbed the wine bottle, filled both their glasses and casually said, “I shouldn’t say my father is old since he’s much younger than you, because then you seem ancient and prehistoric! However, what do you think about one date with my father?”
“I’m not into men with harems!” Bai Qian speedily semi growled. Significantly growing irritated with A-Li with every passing second when he swiftly clarified.
A-Li blurted, “My father doesn’t have a harem! He doesn’t have a single consort and he never will! He’s a loyal and devoted man unlike me. My father is a one woman kind of man and he’s only loved my mother. So, QQ, what do you say about meeting my father once and if you don’t like him, I’ll never bring it up again?”
“NO-THANK-YOU! I’m not in the mood for a play today and I’m going home. See you around, Riceball” Bai Qian swiftly replied then hurriedly stood up before he could stop her, and strolled out of the tea house openly shaking her head in annoyance.
She was peeved but not because A-Li suggested a date with his father, but because he said nobody wanted to marry her. Bai Qian was highly offended because it was the absolute truth.
In all her life, 180,000 years, she’d not had a single marriage offer or anyone that showed even minor interest in her. Bai Qian understood and knew at her late advanced age she probably never would. However, it was very and most profoundly irritating, annoying, vexing to have a 40,000-year-old infant point out the obvious.
She stomped off annoyed and as soon as Bai Qian was out of sight, instantly the smile on A-Li’s face vanished. He rushed back to Nine Heavens immediately. He didn’t jump cloud but leaped over several at once and ran into Ye Hua’s study in frenzied hysteria.
“Father! Father! Father! Holy hell! The SHIT has hit the fan!” A-Li yelled at Ye Hua who was preoccupied reviewing the many documents before him.
Ye Hua didn’t even raise his eyes but reprimanded in his faint voice, “Son, language. A-Li, please watch your language. I don’t like you using obscenities nor do I use them myself. There are many, countless words in this world to describe your feelings without using such foul and lewd conversation. Seeing you in such a state makes me worry. A-Li, please tell me you haven’t impregnated a mortal girl.”
He was huffing, puffing and red in the face. A-Li shouted breathlessly, “Father! It’s much worse than that! It’s code red! Or code gold in this case! It’s finally happened! Uncle Mo Yuan has made the first move! He went to Qingqiu and saw Mother! Did you know that he’s been sending Gramps wine for years fully knowing Mother was going to drink it?”
Ye Hua exhaled sharply through his mouth, angrily slammed down the scroll in his hand, and roared, “Fucking hell! Why is he breaking our promise?! Shit! We both agreed not to see her again! I should have known this was going to happen after Mo Yuan saw her in Zhe Yan’s orchard the other day! Damn it! I should have recognized it when I saw that beady look in his eyes!”
Swiftly Ye Hua stood and marched outside furiously. It was time to see his brother on Kunlun Mountain. After faithfully following their oath for 40,000 years. Mo Yuan broke his word and went to see Qian Qian after both vowed, and swore to each other that they would stay away from her for her mental health and well-being.
After all these years! 40,000 years later and Mo Yuan covertly, stealthily made the first move to regain Qian Qian’s love. A-Li was precisely accurate because the shit had hit the fan. Although, Kunlun Mountain and his older twin brother, Mo Yuan, were going to get thoroughly blasted, and annihilated with another colossal shit storm also known as Ye Hua’s rage and fury.
To be continued…