The Chase Ends

Quan Zhen concentrates all his waning power into forming the demonic flames, with a final burst of energy he heads straight at the Astral Void Beast. Jiang Bai can sense the tremendous amount of demonic energy in Quan Zhen’s hands. The palace is in sight but Quan Zhen is closing the gap between them. 

     The Astral Void Beast looks at Xiaolian who is now fully awake and clutching onto his legs with a look of fear on her face as she stares at the demonic flames being circulated into a ball by Quan Zhen. Jiang Bai knows if she gets hit with even a sliver of that demonic energy it could blacken her pure soul.

     His only thought is how to avoid her being hit, without thought of his own well being. While he is worrying about her, Xiaolian is formulating a plan of her own. Her mind feels weak but she delves into her memories for any solution, she is a Sorcerer’s daughter, she must know something!

     She recalls when her family was being attacked by the demon forces, at first her father was able to drive them back. Eventually he became weakened, there was no one left to stand beside him besides her mother who was equally drained. As she clung to her mother she saw her repel the demonic flames. How did she do that?

     The Astral Void Beast’s wings are flapping in a chaotic manner. He hopes the swirling wind current they produce will affect the flames trajectory. Quan Zhen calculates the distance is perfect right now. He sends the demonic flames towards the Astral Void Beast.The flaming sphere is heading right towards the beast  as though a magnetic force was drawing it to its target- the beast’s heart.

     That’s it! Xiaolian remembers her mothers actions. Her position being gripped by the beast’s talons make it difficult to put her hands together.  She screams,“Jiang Bai drop me ! catch me before I hit the ground”

     “Xiaolian that is too dangerous, hold on we will be at the palace soon” What is she thinking!

     “I order you!”

     He has no choice but to obey her command, he loosens his talons and she falls her hair flying in the wind.

     Quan Zhen is watching this wondering what is going on. Why did the beast drop the girl.. He begins descending towards Xiaolian, I will fly down and catch the girl, this is better than I thought

     Xiaolian quickly chants and swirls her hands together as she is falling through the clouds mimicking her mother. A ball of pure silver shining with stars in the form of a red lotus inside appears in her hand. She must wait until the demonic flames are closer to the beast.

     The winged beast is heading down to catch her the demonic flames moments from impact on his heart. She waits..closer..closer..NOW..she flings the shining light towards the demonic flames, when they collide the gold, red and black flames change to a silver color then disperse into the air in a flash of light. The Astral Beast catches her in his talons, one more moment and it would have been too late.

     Quan Zhen was expecting if the flames didn’t destroy the beast’s heart they would turn back on him. There is no indication any demonic energy remains in the air. He looks over at the Astral Void Beast who gently places the girl on the ground and lays at her feet.

     “Who are you?” Quan Zhen lands coughing up blood a short distance away, his ancient body limp and his mind exhausted

     Xiaolian is feeling her inner strength and resolve returning. She isn’t feeling as weak as she has felt since she woke up here on the mountain.

     “I am your Savior in a way. I can see this pursuit to escape the confines of this mountain prison has exhausted your energy. What little life force you have left will soon be snatched by the gods. I heard your cry of loneliness and didn’t want you to be forced into servitude as an undead. I have one enemy in this world and that is the Demon King, he coveted my father’s powers and my family died because of that.

     If you repent to the gods for your evil deeds you will have a chance to reincarnate without having your soul shattered and dispersed. You should think about that… I don’t forgive you or understand you, I only know that I prevented the Demon King from obtaining one more mindless soldier.

     I will ask Wang Li Jie to be benevolent, to bury your corpse intact beyond your Ice Flower Garden, that is my only kindness towards you. The final choice is yours to make, hold onto a useless grudge against an unscrupulous woman who betrayed you, or break free for the chance to live again if the gods will it.”

     Quan Zhen weary eyes form tears he has suppressed for thousands of years, at the flicker of hope he could be reincarnated.  This young girl makes sense and is compassionate enough to spare him the unbearable future as an undead. If I could be reincarnated I would set aside my stubbornness and lead a righteous life.

    Quan Zhen weakly bows towards Xiaolian,  “I have never truly said thank you in my life, but Thank you.. I will remember your kindness even after death.”

     Quan Zhen falls to the ground, his soul leaving his body for judgment by the gods.

     Several servants had run outside when they heard the commotion by the Ice Flower Garden. They saw an old man lying on the ground dead out by the edge of the mountain, a frightening looking giant Mythological Beast and the girl that His Highness had brought here.

     “Please carry this man to a place and cover his body respectfully until His Highness returns. He suffered a heart attack as we were strolling the grounds. Best explanation I guess..

     They know not to be too inquisitive but what is going on?

     She could hear two maids muttering about the ugly appearance of the beast, the dead old man, they looked terrified. XiXi figured it was best to appear in charge and not acknowledge their words. “Could one of you go bring me a warm coat, I’m not accustomed to this cold.” She wanted to thank them but they scowled at her when they didn’t realize she was watching.

     Now to deal with the late Quan Zhen. He couldn’t remain just lying dead on the ground until Wang Li Jie decides if he will bury him or burn his body. Maybe a god will come to decide.

     Two men who appeared to be the strongest of the lot came over lifting the barely cold body.

     Xiaolian looks at the ancient man in the gray robes being carried away, she has pity for him being betrayed by one he loved and the madness that followed.

     “Jiang Bai, I was rather close to the ground when you caught me,”

     “…” He stares with his bright red eyes at the shivering girl in front of him.  “I have missed your sense of humor Xiaolian”

       She laughs, brrr..I hope they hurry with a coat. “That was exhausting and somewhat terrifying, where is Wang Li Jie. Why isn’t he here”

      “I don’t know”

     “I don’t remember anything right before I opened my eyes and that old man was holding me. Wang Li Jie and I had gone to the Ice Flower Cave for me to cultivate.”

     A girl returns with a furry tan coat that wasn’t as pretty as the snow fox but it looks warm. XiXi wraps herself in it and smells something on it. Ewww…What is that smell? She hurriedly takes off the coat and tosses it on a bench. Huang Howan had given it to the servant girl to bring out when she heard Xiaolian needed a coat.

     “I thought you were cold?” Jiang Bai thought she looked funny the way she snuggled into the fur coat then hurriedly tossed it off. Her face was all scrunched up and she was shaking her head.

     “…” she has no words thinking about the coat’s dreadful smell   “Why wasn’t he chasing after that old man? I wonder if he is hurt somewhere let’s go look.” XiXi is worried, knowing Wang Li Jie he should have been in pursuit of Quan Zhen.

     The Astral Void Beast transforms into his human form to escort her to the cave. He sees how she is shivering and waves his palms around her to create warm air to surround her as a temporary solution.

     “Thank you Jiang Bai”, she feels warmer immediately

     As they are about to leave, Wang Li Jie lands in front of them, his face twisted in pain from the process of removing the poison.

     “Xiaolian”, he grabs her into his embrace and in a moment of happiness seeing she is unharmed, kisses the top of her head while holding her close to him.

     The hair on the back of Jiang Bai’s neck bristles at witnessing this intimate action.

      Xiaolian’s cheeks start blushing.“Your Highness!” 

     He loosens his arms and she steps back. “I’m just happy you are unharmed, what happened with Quan Zhen?”

     “He is dead” Jiang Bai thinks no thanks to you.

     “How”

     “Long story, You are hurt?” Xiaolian looks at his robes with bloodstains, she is visibly worried and gently touches his bandaged hand.

     Jiang Bai is almost wishing he was injured so she could tend to him. Damn that Wang Li Jie! He wants to rip that hand away from Xiaolian’s slender white fingers.

     “I will be fine” his purple eyes are full of love as he enjoys the sensation of her warm hand on his bandaged hand.  His lips turn up in a faint smile remembering how seductive she was earlier, wishing he could  see that side of her again soon.

     “We should go inside it must be freezing out here for you. Why aren’t you wearing a coat, he sees the one on the bench and is about to put it on her.

     “No…No..I’m warm..Jiang Bai covered me in warmth from his internal energy. She takes the coat from his hand and places it back on the bench.” {Please throw that coat away!}

     Wang Li Jie glares at Jiang Bai.

     Jiang Bai gives him a big smile and nods.

     Wang Li Jie starts to lunge toward Jiang Bai but at that moment Xiaolian steps in front of him to ask about his leg, he almost steps on her. He stops in time but loses his balance because his one leg is still weak.

     Jiang Bai grabs his elbow to steady him smirking.

   “Thank you Jiang Bai! Xiaolian looks at Wang Li Jie’s injuries and in a concerned pampering tone says, “Your Highness we need to get the Imperial Physician right away!”

     Wang Li Jie smiles at Jiang Bai…

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