Ch 56: A Haven of Peach Blossoms

Night cradled the peach tree forest and its secluded cabin in a peaceful embrace. Bai Qian, still wrapped in the blanket Meixiu had given her, sat on a chair next to the bed, keeping silent watch over the small black dragon curled up on the mattress. He had not stirred since she carried him away from the Demon Realm several hours ago. 

Though she was drained and exhausted from the shocking day, Bai Qian was still too concerned about Ye Hua and the dragon to give in to sleep. Seeing them weak and injured while knowing there was little she could do to help was almost more than she could bear. She felt like crying but the tears wouldn’t come.   

There was a muffled clatter from the kitchen where Zhe Yan tended a pot of restorative soup as it bubbled over the warm fire. Its spiced fragrance permeated the room. Meixiu sat on a cushion in the corner of the room, drinking a steaming cup of tea. 

Heavenly Mother quietly sang her beautiful lullaby as she cared for the black dragon, Bai Qian, and Meixiu in turn, a worried glint in her eyes every time she checked on her youngest son. There was magic in her soft voice; it soothed some of the aches in Bai Qian’s heart and soul. And Meixiu appeared less tense than she had earlier though she still remained uncharacteristically quiet. 

Heavenly Father had come to the peach tree forest with Mo Yuan immediately after destroying the dragon talon sword. He’d sat at his son’s bedside, watching over the black dragon and saying nothing other than to ask if anybody else had been injured. Grim anger had fallen over his expression when he and Mo Yuan had been forced to leave in order to deal with the aftermath of Jinjing’s treachery. Bai Qian had no doubt those who had been involved with Jinjing’s plans would pay.

Bai Qian wasn’t sure she could eat anything when Zhe Yan’s voice interrupted her thoughts, announcing the soup was ready. Heavenly Mother brought a bowl over to Meixiu before handing one to Bai Qian.

“It will help you relax and will ease the pain,” Heavenly Mother told her, her gentle words encouraging Bai Qian to try it. She glanced at Meixiu and Zhe Yan before turning back to Bai Qian. “You’ve all been through so much today. You need to take extra care of yourselves.”  

“It’s good, Qian Qian,” Meixiu told her after tasting a small sip. “You should eat some of it.”

Reluctantly, her stomach tightening into a knot at the thought of eating, Bai Qain lifted a small spoonful of broth to her mouth. It was warm and savory.  

“That soup will help you restore your strength more quickly,” Zhe Yan added, coming over to check on the black dragon’s wounds. He changed the poultice and bandage after reapplying the paste he had mixed with the antidote to the demon poison. All the while, he and Heavenly Mother encouraged her to finish all of her soup. 

After a few hesitant swallows, Bai Qian’s appetite returned and she ate it with growing enthusiasm. When she stood to bring her bowl to the small wash basin in the kitchen, Zhe Yan took the bowl from her and it vanished before he coaxed her back into her chair. He checked the black dragon again.  

“He’s still in a deep sleep. I thought the smell of the soup might rouse him a little so he could drink some broth. But there’s no urgent reason to try and wake him tonight, Qian Qian. He needs to rest. But he must start eating something tomorrow. I made enough soup for you both to eat for the next several days. It’s sealed in the clay jars in the kitchen.” Zhe Yan handed Bai Qian a small crystal vial. “This is the antidote. Add ten drops to every meal the black dragon eats. When you’re running low on soup, let me know. I can make some more and I can teach you how to make it.”

Bai Qian nodded, tucking the vial into a protected pocket of her dress.

“Do you need anything before I go?” Zhe Yan asked, studying Bai Qian’s face as she shook her head. “I’ll tell Father what’s happened. He can station guards around the peach tree forest and in Qing Qiu. He’ll make sure both places stay safe while Heavenly Father and Mo Yuan focus their attention on restoring order with the Demons and other dark magic tribes.” 

Bai Qian nodded.

“You’re very quiet, Qian Qian. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yes,” she whispered, forcing a shaky half smile onto her face. “I’m just worried.”

Zhe Yan stepped closer and gave her a hug. “I know. We all are. I’ll do everything I can to save him. I promise. Just remember how strong he is, Qian Qian.”

“And how stubborn,” he added, releasing his hold and taking a step back.

“That he is.” Bai Qian’s slight smile was more genuine this time. “Thank you, Zhe Yan.” 

Bai Qian’s words of gratitude were echoed by Heavenly Mother as the Dragon Goddess gave Zhe Yan a hug and motherly kiss on the cheek, treating him just like she did Mo Yuan and Ye Hua. “My boys are lucky to have such a great friend. You’ve never failed to be there for them when needed and today is no different. But make sure you don’t forget to take care of yourself too, Zhe Yan.”

“You don’t need to worry about me”, he answered, brushing off Heavenly Mother’s concern, looking a bit embarrassed by the attention which made her smile. 

“I’ll come by first thing in the morning to check on Ye Hua,” Zhe Yan told Bai Qian. “Let me know right away if anything changes with him overnight.”

“I will.” 

Silence settled over the cabin after Zhe Yan had left. Bai Qian’s attention returned to the bed and she reached out to caress the black dragon’s head, her fingers trembling. The tears that had been building behind her eyes all evening began to stream down her face as she watched his unnatural stillness. If only he would growl, even a faint growl would do, or move a little. Then she would feel better.

Heavenly Mother hurried over to Bai Qian’s side and wrapped her arm around her shoulders, pulling her close.

“It’s okay, Qian Qian. Let it all out.” 

Bai Qian turned and buried her face in Heavenly Mother’s shoulder, sobs overtaking her as Ye Hua’s mother caressed her hair in a soothing way before rubbing her shoulder.

“I know how much Ye Hua loves you,” Heavenly Mother said, murmuring the words as she rocked Bai Qian gently. “He will fight to return to you.”

Meixiu knelt next to Bai Qian and hugged her, offering her own support. “It will be alright, Qian Qian. Mo Yuan has told me before that his dragon and Ye Hua’s are very in tune with each other because they are twins. Mo Yuan will sense it if Ye Hua’s wound gets worse and will tell Zhe Yan right away.”     

“It’s true,” Heavenly Mother said. “And Zhe Yan is very skilled in the practice of healing. Others underestimate his abilities but I believe he will one day be the greatest Medicine God the realm has ever known. Ye Hua is in good hands with Zhe Yan.”

Their words and unwavering support had a soothing effect on Bai Qian. She embraced them both in turn after wiping the tears off her cheeks. “It’s nice to have a family again,” she told them softly. 

They stayed with Bai Qian until Mo Yuan and Heavenly Father returned later in the night. Both men murmured a few words to the black dragon sleeping on the bed and Heavenly Mother checked him over once again to assure he was still stable before turning to Bai Qian.

“We should go and let you rest,” Heavenly Mother told her. “Will you be okay by yourself? I don’t mind staying here tonight if you don’t want to be alone.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“I’ll come by and check on you and Ye Hua in the morning.”

Heavenly Father handed Bai Qian a blank piece of parchment. “If you or Ye Hua need anything and I’m not here, use this to send me a message. It will reach me no matter where I am.” 

Bai Qian took the parchment and nodded. 

“What you did will be praised for millennia to come,” he told her. “You didn’t just save Ye Hua’s life, Qian Qian. You prevented a war, saving the lives of the soldiers who would have had to do battle. And you proved yourself worthy of the title Queen of Qing Qiu. When the time comes, I will be proud to call you my daughter.” 

“I…” Bai Qian didn’t know how to respond, pleased by Heavenly Father’s praise but feeling self-conscious about it as well. “I…thank you.”

He smiled at her. “Goodnight, Qian Qian. I’ll see you tomorrow.” 

“Goodnight,” she responded, watching as Heavenly Father took his wife’s hand before they disappeared from the room.

“Father is not wrong,” Mo Yuan told Bai Qian as he and Meixiu came over to bid her goodnight. “Meixiu and I have seen what you are capable of, Qian Qian, but even we could not have anticipated how strong you have really become. And in such a short time. You did very well today.”

“I had some help from my father,” Bai Qian reminded them, having briefly explained about her father’s heart earlier when Zhe Yan had noticed the cut on her face from Jinjing’s weapon. “And I wouldn’t have known how to fight back if both of you hadn’t taught me how.” 

“The power and determination were all yours,” Mo Yuan countered, not allowing her to deflect the praise she deserved. “Meixiu and I simply helped show you how to use it more effectively.”

“We’re both really proud of you,” Meixiu added. “Once Ye Hua has recovered and we have some time, I want to hear all the details of what happened. I’m sure he will also want to hear about how his powerful lady flew to his rescue. It will be a great story.”

Bai Qian agreed with a nod, smiling at Meixiu’s attempt to lighten the mood a little. “Will I see you both tomorrow?”

“Yes,” Meixiu answered. “We’ll come by to check on you and Ye Hua.”

“Don’t hesitate to come to Kunlun if you need anything before morning,” Mo Yuan added. “Goodnight, Qian Qian.”

After Mo Yuan and Meixiu left, Bai Qian found herself feeling unsettled again. Her capture and subsequent battle with Jinjing, her fear that Ye Hua would die, and Zhe Yan’s efforts to heal him all continued running through her mind like a never-ending loop now that she was alone. In an effort to silence her thoughts, Bai Qian tidied up around the too quiet cabin, stopping to check on her black dragon every other minute. 

Finally, she stopped and sat on the edge of the mattress with a sigh, caressing her hand down the dragon’s warm scales. She was never going to relax enough to sleep at this rate. Maybe I should take Ye Hua to Kunlun Mountain? No. Her instincts continued to tell her Ye Hua would heal better here in the peach tree forest. But maybe the cabin wasn’t the best place to spend the night after everything that had happened.

Bai Qian pulled her messy braid loose, allowing her hair to flow freely down her back. She removed her silk slippers before lifting the black dragon into her arms. She cradled him close to her chest as she stepped through the door, enjoying the feel of the cool ground against her bare feet. 

The soothing sound of crickets chirping into the darkness accompanied her as she walked along one of her old familiar trails through the moonlit trees. A gentle, fragrant breeze encouraged her, beckoning her forward. Instinct still guiding her, she summoned an old, tattered blanket from her former den when she passed by the meadow. The fabric was soft and carried her scent. She wrapped it carefully around her dragon to protect him from the night chill.

As she had known it would, the trail led her to the magical grove in the heart of the forest. Branches swayed and leaves rustled as the ancient trees welcomed her and the black dragon into their midst. They would be safe here. The trees would protect them.

The currents of magic in the air led Bai Qian to a small nook hidden by the leaves of large tree branches. The ground there was padded by thick layers of moss. As Bai Qian stepped through the leaves, the branches above swayed with another rustle. Peach blossoms fell, their fragrance surrounding her as they slowly floated around her on their way to covering the cushion of soft moss. She lay the sleeping dragon on the moss and peach blossom bed, ensuring he was tucked into a comfortable position. 

Her magic surged when Bai Qian shifted into her fox. 

The white fox whimpered when she received no response from the black dragon after nuzzling him with her muzzle. Whining softly, she curled her body around his, laying her muzzle near his snout and wrapping her fluffy tails around them both to provide extra warmth. Wanting to protect her dragon, she stayed awake for as long as she was able. But the gentle rustling lullaby of leaves and blossoms dancing with the night breeze finally lulled her into a dreamless sleep. 


Bai Qian awoke with a start early the next morning, disoriented for a moment. The last thing she remembered was drifting off to sleep while her fox was in the process of settling onto the moss with the black dragon. She didn’t remember shifting during the night but she was back in her human form and the black dragon was now sleeping on her stomach. She sat up, trying not to jostle him. He growled a greeting to her, opening his eyes.

Joy rushed through Bai Qian when he lifted his head to face her. The forest magic in combination with Zhe Yan’s medicine had done wonders for him overnight. While there was no sign of Ye Hua being awake, Bai Qian still felt lighter, her mood brightened by the dragon’s improved appearance. Zhe Yan had warned her that the dragon would recover more quickly than Ye Hua would while assuring her that as long as the dragon was alive, Ye Hua was too.

She carried him back to the cabin as the first rays of the sun began to reach the forest floor, setting him on the bed so she could heat up the restorative soup Zhe Yan had left for them. She added the antidote as instructed and sat next to the dragon on the mattress to spoon some broth to him. He balked after tasting it, turning his head.

“I know the antidote probably doesn’t taste good, but Zhe Yan says you have to take it. It will make you feel better.” Reluctantly, he took a second taste. Bai Qian smiled and kissed his head, pleased his scales were warm. This encouraged him to take a third spoonful.

Zhe Yan arrived just as Bai Qian was coaxing the dragon to eat the last few sips in the bowl.

“He’s awake,” Zhe Yan said, relief obvious in his expression as he hurried over to check the dragon’s wounds. 

He cleaned and redressed the wounds, finishing as Ye Hua’s parents, Mo Yuan, and Meixiu arrived. Bai Qian greeted them warmly as did the dragon who spent several minutes with his family before growing tired and drifting back to sleep. Heavenly Mother sang a soothing melody to help him relax further so he could rest more fully. She and Meixiu stayed with Bai Qian to keep her company after Mo Yuan and Heavenly Father left for more negotiations with the Demons and other dark magic tribes.

And so began Bai Qian’s routine for the next several weeks. 

She would wake with the dawn, spending some quiet time with her black dragon in their special place in the ancient grove of the forest before walking back to the cabin. She had found a basket to carry the dragon in. It was the perfect size for him to curl up in. He would rest his head on the side to look out at the blossoming peach trees. He liked to bathe with her in the refreshing water of the small lake before she gave him his breakfast, adding the antidote to it every day. She often coaxed him into eating by rewarding him with soft kisses.

After breakfast, Zhe Yan would come by to check on his friend’s progress, teaching Bai Qian the best ways to care for Ye Hua’s wounds and how to prepare the restorative soup and different variations of it. Ye Hua’s family often stopped by to check on him and spend time at the cabin with Bai Qian. Mo Yuan would play his guqin for his brother when he had time, his mother often joining him. Heavenly Father liked to sit quietly with his family, listening to the music. Heavenly Mother and Meixiu stayed with Bai Qian most afternoons, keeping her company.

In the beginning, the black dragon remained weak and slept for long periods of time but he was growing stronger every day. Bai Qian could see his vitality returning to him, pleased when he stopped sleeping so much.

Guangli and Biyu stopped by one day, bringing Bai Qian some of Ye Hua’s favorite tea so he could have some as soon as he awoke. A tearful Xiaoli had shown up a few days later to apologize to Bai Qian and beg her forgiveness for what had happened the day Bai Qian had been captured. She had been quick to reassure Xiaoli the fault was not hers and there was nothing to forgive. Xiaoli had still promised to make it up to her and she had brought several jars of honey for Bai Qian and Ye Hua to enjoy once he was awake.

The evenings belonged to Bai Qian and the black dragon. She liked to walk with him through the peach trees during their quiet times together, choosing different trails to follow. She carried him in the basket as she walked, talking to him about whatever subject came to mind. She was surprised how well her trails were maintaining themselves considering she hadn’t used most of them in months. It was like nothing had changed despite her time training on Kunlun Mountain. 

Their evening walks would always end in the grove at the heart of the forest where Bai Qian would shift so the fox could spend time with the dragon before they settled into sleep next to each other on the mossy bed. 

Eventually Bai Qian sensed her dragon was strong enough to resume his true size but he stayed small so she could care for him more easily. And care for him she did, finding strength and peace in the act of doing so. She treasured every moment she spent with him.

Yet, all the while, Bai Qian patiently waited for Ye Hua to wake up and come back to her.

⇚ Previous part: Ch 55: An Unbreakable Bond

⇛ Next part: Ch 57: Never to Leave

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June 8, 2022 17:38

June 8, 2022 It was truly breakable to Qian Qian’s heart watched her beloved dragon in that state 24/7. Loved the bonds they hold dear and the Forest Grove magic for sure helped Ye Hua’s speedy recovery and when QQ trurn into fox. Thank you once again for capturing our hearts and souls with your unique writing skills. God bless.