Fanfiction: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan - Chapter 30.5 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 30.5

written by Miniorchid
edited by kakashi

“En Gong, you’re back, you’re back!” Qiao Er ran towards her Savior, almost stumbling in her haste. She grabbed the front of his robe and looked up at him with admiration.

He quickly put a finger on her lips, hunched down to her level and whispered: “Shhhhh….lower your voice! Where is your mom?”

Oh, right. Quickly, Qiao Er lowered her own voice too. She had forgotten this was a game and mommy was not allowed to know when he was here. “She is preparing food inside,” she whispered back.

“Do you have them?” he asked.

“Yes! Do you have mine?” She was excited and her tummy growled in anticipation.

“Of course.” He pulled out a small paper package. The delicious smell of the red bean buns she loved so much wafted through the air.

“Thank you, En Gong! I will get mother’s rice buns for you.” She ran to the front gate and brought back a package that she had hidden there.

“Good girl,” He fondly patted her head and took the package of rice buns from her hands.

Qiao Er did not understand why En Gong looked so happy when he took the rice buns. “En Gong?”

“Yes, little one.”

“What do you do with mom’s rice bun?” She was curious about this. They had been exchanging buns for months now. He must have a whole mountain of them in his home.

“Eat them, of course,” he answered matter-of-factly.

She couldn’t believe this. “You eat them?”

He lightly pinched her cheek. “Yes, I love them very much.”

He must be joking. “You really eat them?”

He laughed. “You don’t like your mom’s rice buns?”

Qiao Er pulled a face and shook her head. She always avoided eating her mom’s rice buns because they were so hard to eat. “They’re very dry,” she declared.

“Drink tea with them,” he suggested.

“But they’re really, really dry,” she emphasized the dryness by nodding her head.

His voice softened as he replied, “you are right. They are really, really dry. But I still love eating them.”

Qiao Er stared at him. He did not seem to make fun of her? He must really like dry food then. Maybe Qiao Er could learn to make dry rice buns for En Gong when she was older, she thought. She would really like that.


** 6 months ago, on mortal realm time**

“You have to leave,” Yan Zhi’s voice was flat and emotionless.

They stood outside her little skew-whiff house in the bamboo forest. Qiao Er was still sleeping inside - thankfully. It would have broken his heart to have her witness this confrontation. She called him Savior, En Gong, and he had grown extremely fond of her in a very short time. She was such a good, happy child, despite all the difficulties she had experienced in her short life.

It had taken him a full week to recover from the injury he had sustained when battling the assassins. To his great embarrassment, he had fainted in front of Yan Zhi and the little one. The Ghost Princess had moved him to the hut, had taken care of his wounds and made sure he was fed properly. And yet, she had hardly spoken a word beyond the bare necessities. What she told him repeatedly was to focus on his recovery, clearly wanting him gone and out of her house as fast as possible. He had complied with her wish, his heart aching, and had gotten better as fast as he could.

Now that he was healed, she was kicking him out. He had just suggested they should move to a safer location, but that was clearly not her intention.

“I can protect you and Qiao Er. You’re near Kunlun.”

“We don’t need your protection, I already placed a shield.”

Feeling a mix of panic and desperation, he tried to reason with her. “That won’t be enough! Assassins are after you! Your powers are limited here. Come to Kunlun, they can’t get to you and Qiao Er there.”

“No,” She shook her head, “I will tell you one last time, we don’t need protection, and most of all not from you.”

With a sinking feeling, he echoed “from me?”

“I do not want to owe you more debts. I want nothing more to do with you.”

“You never owed me,” he walked towards her, taking his chances, but she backed away, shaking her head.

“Yan Zhi, please, I only want to assure your safety,” he said anxiously.

Her eyes narrowed. “Why were you there when the assassins attacked?”

“I wanted to see you.”

“See me?” she gave a cynical laugh. “Just like that? When you shunned us all this time?”

He froze at her words. He wanted to tell her the truth, but he could not bring herself to tell her about the Sea of Innocence and his vow to spend his lifetime there. It sounded so foolish, so definite. Before he could come up with a good answer, she spoke again.

“That day at Kunlun… do you remember?”

How could he forget the day he had pushed her away? “Yes, like yesterday...” he answered, dreading her reply.

Her gaze held him hostage. “So you remember what you said to me?”

He tried to look away, but he couldn’t. He forced himself to answer despite the lump in his throat. “I told you to never come look for me again.”

“Yes. And why did you say that to me back then?” She stared at him so intently, he felt she was searching his soul.

“Because I wanted you to forget me.” Zi Lan only gave her the half-truth, coward that he was.

But Yan Zhi was not fooled. She shook her head. “No, it was because you couldn’t accept me.” She turned away from him, but he pulled her into his arms, desperately hugging her from behind, willing her to remember how they once were.

“Yan Zhi,” he begged.

She didn’t even struggle, but her voice was deadly calm, with an edge of steel. “Please leave.”

Tears stung his eyes, he hugged her harder. “Yan Zhi, let me stay, please,” he begged.

“Let go of me.”

Now she pushed his arms away and turned to face him. She closed her eyes briefly and there was anguish in her voice when she spoke again. “I’ve shed enough tears over the years because of you. I tried to justify your decision for a long time. But I realized that you only got joy from protecting a vulnerable woman, but never wanted the true me.”

He grabbed her shoulders, shaking his head furiously. “That’s not true…Yan Zhi…I..”

“Our clans will forever be enemies. While I knew that, it didn’t matter to me back then.”

“I was wrong, please let me…”

She cut him off. “You’re not wrong, we were never meant to be. You made me see that.”

Yan Zhi pushed his hands from her shoulders and took several steps back.

Her eyes glittered with unshed tears. “Fate may have brought us together, but it was you who broke us apart. Now please leave us be. I don’t want to see you again.”

And he left, hanging his head in misery and shame. He couldn’t bare to see her cry. Tears that were caused by him, because of his prejudice, his code, his stubbornness, and most of all… his selfishness.


** Present day, in the mortal realm… **

Zi Lan watched from behind the bamboo as Qiao Er ran back into the house to her mom. It had been 6 months since the attack. Even though there had been no signs of more assassins, he felt he had to stay nearby, watching over Yan Zhi and Qiao Er from a distance, since Yan Zhi had been abundantly clear she had no wish to ever see him again. He cursed the lack of cultivation that made him basically blind to the presence of others, but at times, the bamboo forest grew suddenly quiet, eerily quiet. It was like nature stopped breathing for a time and he could not shake a feeling of impending danger.

For reasons he could only guess, Yan Zhi chose to stay in the mortal realm near Kunlun, where her powers were limited, instead of near the Ghost Realms border. It was likely that she wanted nothing to do with her tribe anymore, now that all her loved ones except for her niece were gone. Her loneliness made him very sad.

After Si Yin’s lecture that night at the festival, he had started to wonder about second chances. Or third, in his case, since he had wasted his second when he had cut off his relationship with Yan Zhi that time at Kunlun. But he dared not hope. Cowardly, he was about to resign to his eternal torment again, when Shifu had brought back their Shimu in his arms. A union between a Demon and a Celestial was by no means easier than one between a Ghost and a Celestial, but Shifu did not hesitate for a second to enter the Demon Realm when she needed him, even if his actions could ignite a war, even if it meant getting badly hurt.

How could Zi Lan study under his master for millennia and not understand this earlier? The God of War did not care about what others thought of him, whether they were Celestial, Demon, Fox or Ghost. He did what he considered right and would always protect those he held dear with his own life. He had brought him back from the Sea of Innocence because it did not matter to him that his own disciple had protected the daughter and granddaughter of his mortal enemy. But it mattered to him that his disciple had helped a child in need. He told him that many times, but Zi Lan had not listened to his wisdom.

When the search party was at the gates of Kunlun, he had a vision of Yan Zhi at that very spot, the moment she walked out of his life. What a fool he had been. He left his search party soon after, making an excuse that he had urgent business to attend to. It was urgent: He had to see her again. He had to make this right.

He had spent months searching for her in the mortal realms and when fate was charitable enough to lead him to her, he had felt exhilarated. But he did not have the courage to approach her. So he had just watched her for days, her and her niece. How they went about their daily lives, quiet lives, modest lives. Princesses of the Ghost Tribe, living like mortals.

On day four, the assassins had attacked - and he was forced to make his presence known.

Now, he had to stay hidden again to continue to protect Yan Zhi and Qiao Er, because his presence no longer brought her joy, only misery. He had broken her heart with his foolishness. Yan Zhi and her niece were alone in this world, with nobody to care for them.

Back then, Zi Lan had thought he was protecting her, but no….he had just protected himself. He had not loved her as she deserved. He had not accepted her for who she was. He knew he didn’t have the right to regain her trust, much as he tried. But his feelings were no longer the priority. Their safety was much more important than the torment he inflicted upon himself. Following her wish, he would continue to watch over her from the shadows.

Zi Lan had realized: It was not fate that made him lose her that day, but his own doing. The paths he took, the steps he made, the words he spoke. One could continue to cowardly blame fate, but it was man’s actions that sealed his destiny.

Chapter 31a