Chapter 33a

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written by Chimera
edited by Miniorchid and Juls

Over the course of her 135,000 year old life, Li Ying had learned to savour small joys. Candy. Plays. A new skill. A good reef knot. A lover's touch. Die Feng's eyes were big and warm and his expression hovered between outrage and amusement every time she saw him. When he wondered aloud why she liked the peach blossom candy she couldn't resist. His uncomprehending expression made her want to run her hands through his hair, wipe all confusion from his face, share the candy with him, show him.

But as their lips parted, Li Ying's mind was reeling. When she arrived at Kunlun she hadn't planned on kissing Die Feng. And when she kissed him she hadn't planned on becoming breathless with desire. Now, for the first time she was unsure.

Sharing the candy with Die Feng had not turned out to be a small joy to be savoured. It had been - how had she put it? "A kiss would have me thoroughly devour your mouth and leave you inflamed and burning to follow me to bed." Ah, yes. Except now she was the one inflamed with the desire to take him to bed. The irony was not lost on her as she watched him lick his lips. The thought that he could still taste her entered her mind and she suddenly felt light headed. As her chest rose and fell with each uneven breath, she decided that she rather liked this new intensity. And all this while, his eyes never left her face. His eyes bore into hers as if he'd figure her out if only he gazed hard enough.

The sound of a twig snapping underfoot made them spin around as Die Feng's juniors entered the clearing. The one she had fallen on still looked red in the face and she shot him an apologetic look. He kept his focus on Die Feng, steadily refusing to meet her eyes.

The other one addressed Die Feng. "Senior! We received a message from 16th on the copper mirror. He's in trouble."

Die Feng's brow furrowed, "Where is he?"

The disciple sounded worried, "Somewhere in the mortal realm."

"What? How did he get there?"

"Before leaving he told us he had urgent business to attend to. His voice on the mirror was cut off; it sounded as if 16th's mirror was smashed."

"That is strange," Die Feng mused. After a moment he called out orders, "Give me the mirror; I will go to him. Gather everyone and return to Kunlun but don't trouble Shifu with this yet. Stay alert and keep me informed." He turned to Li Ying and bowed, "Forgive me, I must leave. We can talk next time."

"Wait-" Li Ying's voice rang in the air as he cloud jumped. She called the nearest cloud and jumped after him. As she caught up with his cloud, she called his name.

He looked back, alarmed. "Princess! You must head back!"

"I will be fine!" she called out. "But there are thousands of mortal worlds. How do you know which one your junior is in?"

"It is this one," he called back and swooped down. She dove after him and together they landed. Silently congratulating herself for her clean landing, Li Ying looked around.

They were in the side alley of a small market town she recognised from previous visits. The midday sun bore down her neck and the market square a few steps away was alive with the bustle of traders and purchasers.

Next to her, Die Feng held up his copper mirror. "The mirror calls to the shards of its broken mate," he explained. "It will lead me to 16th."

She clapped her hands, "Wonderful! Let's go then."

He put out a hand to stop her, "Princess I must insist that you return."

"Don't be such a stick in the mud," she pouted. "I've been here before, I can help."

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