“And I’m the WHITE FOX, so what?” Bai Qian matched the White Goddess’ tone perfectly.
Zhe Yan had to grin. Bai Qian always did have a knack for mimicry.
The White Goddess… the White Goddess… he vaguely recalled hearing of her before. Didn’t she sit on several realm councils? While Zhe Yan did do the odd round of social events in the Heavens, political circles were ones he most actively avoided.
The Phoenix scrutinized the woman and her group.
The White Goddess was dressed in a flowing gossamer gown. Her thick locks of hair were pinned in an elaborate style all about her head, topped with an ornate headpiece that looked to be of rare white jade. Hmm, white goddess? Or stuck up swan? Did the woman not own a cloak? It must have been chilly just wearing that translucent dress here. Of course, a cloak would have hidden the suggestive display of female curves, something Zhe Yan suspected was the point.
A shame really. Had it not been for the deep frown lines that appeared to be permanently etched on the woman’s face, along with steely eyes glaring daggers at everything, the White Goddess would have been quite attractive.
An entire retinue of servants stood behind her, looking for all intents and purposes like a gaggle of geese; all women, all dressed in the same identical plain white shift with their hair tied up in similar fashion to that of their mistress, minus the priceless jade headpiece, of course.
How dull, Zhe Yan thought as he cautiously surveyed the scene, readying himself should Bai Qian need him… though he highly doubted it.
What am I doing?
Bai Qian forced herself to take a deep breath.
I’m tired and letting my temper get the better of me. I need to calm down. Zhe Yan and I are Mo Yuan’s guests here after all. Whoever this woman is should also be none of my business.
Ignore her, Qian.
“Well, Blind Fox? Have you gone deaf and dumb now as well?!”
… ignore her, ignore her…
Jaw clenched and her hands balled into fists, Bai Qian swung round to head back towards the gate.
“You’re right, Qian Qian,” Zhe Yan whispered, falling into step beside her. “It’s not worth it. That stuck up swan seems to have a few crooked tail feathers jammed up her bu–“
“Hmm,” the stuck up swan turned to address her gaggle. “Is there not some rumour that the Fox King’s wife died because of her?”
Bai Qian’s travel bag dropped to the ground.
“What did you just say?” Bai Qian’s words were lined with steel as she did an about face and walked in the direction of the woman’s voice, only this time with no sign of stopping.
“Why are you advancing upon me like that? Are you threatening me, Blind Fox?” But rather than appear alarmed, the White Goddess smiled smugly at Bai Qian’s face.
Zhe Yan couldn’t believe it. She’s intentionally picking a fight with Bai Qian! Why?!
“Everyone get back! No one interfere!” the White Goddess commanded her servants who swiftly moved a good distance to the side. A shimmering sword materialized in her hand, its blade piercing the air with a sharp ring.
“Stay out of it.” Zhe Yan’s arm shot out to block Zi Lan who’d been about to dash forward to intercede.
“What?!?” Zi Lan was incredulous. “But she’s pulled a sword on Lady Bai!”
“Her mistake,” Zhe Yan said, never taking his eyes off the scene unfolding before him… just in case.
A familiar wave of power heralded the arrival of a certain Grandmaster. Mo Yuan burst forth from a cloud-jumping mist beside them. “Shifu!! High God Zhe Yan says not to do anything!” Zi Lan cried as Mo Yuan’s gaze instantly locked upon the confrontation ahead.
Zhe Yan’s voice took on a hard edge. “She will not take kindly if you interfere, Dragon. I know my friend well.”
“Besides, I think it would be good if you watch this, God of War, perhaps more so your brash young disciple here.”
Then Zhe Yan, being Zhe Yan, couldn’t stay serious-sounding for too long. “Ever rub the fur the wrong way on a sleep-deprived fox with a temper before, gentlemen? Watch this.”
The air-piercing ring stung her sensitive ears.
Bai Qian knew that sound, knew it very well in fact. Her father had taught it to her, by force, once he felt she’d been old enough.
It caused a chill to run down her spine and her chest to tighten.
All tiredness vanished in the rush of adrenaline that now coursed through Bai Qian’s veins, knowing she faced the tip of a sword. Yet none of it showed when she spoke.
“Call me whatever you wish, White Goddess, but never, ever, mention my mother again.”
The woman laughed, “Or what? You’ll gag me with that silk band across your face? Pathetic. Blind as you are, how can you be expected to protect your land as its Queen? This is a concern I must bring up to council. What was the Fox King thinking? You can only be a liability to Qing Qiu and damaged as you are, you can be of no strategic use, nor personal interest, to Mo Yuan.”
Yao Guang lunged, her intent to slice off the silk band covering Bai Qian’s eyes.
But that’s not what ended up happening.
All three men stood riveted to the spot, utterly transfixed by what they witnessed. And within moments of having begun, it was over.
Zi Lan’s low whistle broke the shocked silence that followed.
“Woah…” the Sixteenth Disciple said with awe.
The moment the song of the sword had begun–how Bai Zhi had described the swish of a sword blade through the air to her– Bai Qian dropped into a spinning crouch with splayed tails whipping in a circle just above the ground. Not having expected any kind of fighting reaction from the Fox, the White Goddess had been caught completely off guard. She scrambled backwards to avoid getting her ankles hooked and her footfalls became a jumbled sound of confused steps; slipping and stumbling as she tried to steady herself –exactly what Bai Qian had wanted to hear.
In a blur of fox magic with her tails leveraged on the ground, Bai Qian catapulted herself into the air. Knees tucked to her chest, she somersaulted over where she knew the white goddess stood off balance. Since that first “STOP!”, the woman had been making a show of letting her energy charge the air, allowing Bai Qian to sense the woman’s exact positon.
Bai Qian came out of her airborne roll to land solidly in a kneeling crouch; her tails that had been trailing behind her having caught and hooked under the arms of a now screeching goddess. The satisfying sound of the sword clanging to the ground made the corner of Bai Qian’s mouth quirk up as she hoisted the woman upwards.
Slowly, Bai Qian rose to her feet, drawing back her tails but just the one that now held a squirming, shrieking White Goddess suspended above the ground…
…by an ankle…
Frightened gasps erupted from the group of servants off to the side, followed by a mass swishing of cloth and claps to the ground.
“You dare draw a sword upon a guest of mine?!! At the very gates of Kunlun?!!” The thunder in Mo Yuan’s voice answered the question Bai Qian had had from the first time she’d met him… whether the dragon’s roar could be heard from within the man? The answer was a definite yes.
The God of War’s advancing footsteps stopped beside her, Zhe Yan’s and the brat’s were right behind.
“Mo Yuan!!!” a thrashing Yao Guang shrieked, slapping away at her skirts which flopped over her face.
“Her bloomers are the same gossamer as her gown,” Zhe Yan casually observed. Zi Lan snickered.
“How… how… how dare you allow this, Mo Yuan!!” a crimson-faced White Goddess sputtered as her body slowly rotated in the air. “Make this bitch release me at once!”
Mo Yuan’s eyes narrowed. The White Goddess was but one–albeit the most persistent–in a long line of goddesses through the ages who’d some way or another become enamoured of him and deluded themselves into believing they would someday become Lady of Kunlun. Mo Yuan had never given Yao Guang, nor any of the others for that matter, cause to think he’d been interested in them in that way.
Yao Guang’s infatuation-fueled hijinks over the millennia had always been easy enough to ignore, but today she’d crossed a line and gone too far. He needed to put a clean end to it once and for all and it occurred to Mo Yuan that the perfect means with which he could do so was with the person he stood beside.
The question was whether Bai Qian would understand his intention and be willing to help.
“MO YUAN!!” Yao Guang screeched as her face rotated back into view.
Taking his time, Mo Yuan slowly clasped his hands behind his back, straightening his shoulders with a slow, relaxed intake of breath. He hoped to project an aura of calm and detachment to Bai Qian. Would she correctly interpret his measured movements and the gist of his next words? Would she understand what he was trying to do and follow his lead?
“Bai Qian,” Mo Yuan said in a casual manner, “may I trouble you, please, to… let go of Yao Guang?”
“Oh?” Bai Qian was surprised. Did Mo Yuan mean what she thought he meant? His tone certainly implied it. Ok, fine by me. “If that’s what you truly wish, Mo Yuan, of course I’ll be happy to… let go of her.” And her fox tail unwound from Yao Guang’s ankle with a slippery snap.
Dropped like a sack of rice, the White Goddess was swarmed by her anxious servants who tried to untangle her twisted skirts and help her up. “Get OFF of me!!!” she shouted, striking out at their hands as she struggled to get up on her own.
“I trust this marks the end of your pathetic campaign to somehow gain my favour, Yao Guang,” Mo Yuan said, carefully choosing to repeat the words he’d heard her use on Bai Qian. “Understand this well, White Goddess. You are of no strategic nor personal interest to me whatsoever. However, should you wish to continue being an embarrassment to yourself and further sully your damaged reputation, perhaps my Lady here could accommodate you again tomorrow?”
“Your… your… your Lady…?” Yao Guang stammered in disbelief.
“Qian Qian, shall we?” Mo Yuan said brightly, holding out his elbow to lightly touch her arm.
Huh? Qian Qian? Did I just hear him call me his Lady? And now Qian Qian? Bai Qian stood there dazed with confusion.
“Qian Qian,” Zhe Yan hissed from behind, grabbing one of her tails and giving it a pinch. The Phoenix had quickly understood what Mo Yuan was trying to accomplish. “Qian Qian, quick now, take Mo Yuan’s elbow. Lean up against him too. Oh, and drape a tail over his shoulder while you’re at it,” Zhe Yan finished in an excited whisper he’d magically altered so the White Goddess wouldn’t hear.
In a moment that could have stretched on into eternity for Bai Qian, she gingerly reached up and took hold of Mo Yuan’s elbow with both her hands. Was her face on fire? It felt like it was as she now leaned up against him as well.
And slowly, ever so slowly, Bai Qian brought a tail forward to trail up Mo Yuan’s back and softly drape over his shoulder.
Mo Yuan’s warm hand settled over hers as he gently turned them around.
Both entered together through the gates of Kunlun with a stunned Sixteenth Disciple and a wildly grinning Phoenix, who trailed behind to scoop up Bai Qian’s travel bag for her.
The hysterical wails of the White Goddess gradually faded away as they climbed higher upon the mountain path.
⇛ Next part: 13(第十三章) A Special Touch
⇚ Previous part: 11(第十一章) A Goddess at the Gate