Fanfiction: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan - Chapter 43 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 43

written by Panda
edited by kakashi

It was a balmy, cloudy day when yet more guests arrived at Kunlun Mountains. One came on a beautiful phoenix while the other, resplendent in purple, came with his loyal retainer: It was High God Zhe Yan, the former Heavenly Lord Donghua Dijun and Star Lord Si Ming. As they reached the steps that lead to the Great Hall of Kunlun, the disciples rushed forward to greet them and pay their respects.

“Donghua Dijun - High God Zhe Yan - Star Lord Si Ming”, they bowed.

Zhe Yan, a familiar face at Kunlun, graciously acknowledged their greetings with a dip of his head, while Si Ming bowed eagerly to everyone in return and Donghua Dijun simply looked bored at the proceedings.

“Where is your Shifu?” Zhe Yan asked the disciples after they had finished paying their respects, “take us to him.”

Die Feng stepped forward and led them through the hallowed grounds of Kunlun. As they proceeded, the guests could discern childish giggles somewhere to the right and the sound of women shouting in the distance. Only a faint enigmatic smile spread over Zhe Yan’s face. But Si Ming’s eyes flittered hither and thither as he tried to catch a glimpse of the origin of these unusual sounds without making it too obvious how excited he was.

Mo Yuan was in the great room, reading. He put the scroll down when the guest approached and looked their way, his face impassive. One could have thought he was not overly excited to see his old friends. After announcing their presence to the Master of Kunlun Mountains, Die Feng bowed deeply and left in tow with Si Ming, who excused himself since he had “an important matter to attend to”.

“I thought you would still be in your honeymoon phase,” Zhe Yan said, “but I should have known the God of War doesn’t have one romantic bone in his body. Reading dreary books so early in the morning, could that be why your wife isn’t having breakfast with you?”

Not even waiting for an invitation to sit, Zhe Yan made himself comfortable and took four bottles of peach wine from this sleeve pocket. “By the way, I recently lost a large batch of my finest brew because of you, you owe me compensation.”

Mo Yuan, who hadn’t uttered a word since the guests had arrived, echoed: “Compensation?”

“Yes. I had to give Dijun five bottles of my finest because I lost a bet.”

“I said eight days,” Dijun interjected.

“And I said three. But it’s been four weeks!” Zhe Yan shook his head in disbelief.

Mo Yuan sighed. “Don’t tell me you just came here to tell me about a bet you had? It is going to be a busy day for me, I have a lot of reports to read.”

“Now, now, you grumbler, this is not how you welcome guests who came to greet you after your nuptials. Nuptials to which they did not get an invitation, one must add - even though they consider you their closest friend. Dijun don’t you have anything to say to the happy groom?”

“I don’t have anything to say except to congratulate Mo Yuan for finally listening. Who knew he would be as eager to follow my advice as to marry her?” Dijun said drily. “Of course, he has only succeeded in causing more trouble; all I told him to do was to offer his body for the peace of the realms, not to stir up Celestial outrage by marrying a Demon.”

Zhe Yan who had been smiling throughout the speech burst into laughter when Mo Yuan closed his eyes at the end of Dijun’s speech. He reached out and poured peach wine for Mo Yuan who accepted the cup and downed its content in one go.

“You know well I am not really married to her, you can stop the pretense,” Mo Yuan said tiredly, holding out the cup for more.

“Ah, but if you say you are married, then who can call you a liar? Good military strategy by the way, as usual, you are one step ahead,” Dijun continued.

“Donghua…”

“Ah, but he is the God of War, he is always one step ahead, ready to sacrifice all for the good of the realms. He stands as an example to all,” Zhe Yan smirked.

“Zhe Yan…”

“Indeed, I thought I had lost the ability to be surprised by anything after living so long. But Shao Wan staying here for so long is a surprise,” Zhe Yan stated.

“Or not,” Dijun added.

“True,” Zhe Yan agreed, “she is your first love after all.”

“What do you mean?” Mo Yuan asked sharply.

“We used to bet back at school too,” Zhe Yan explained. “I used to think you would at least sleep with her. But Dijun always said: ‘Mo Yuan is the only true ascetic we know. He lives and breathes Taoist virtues. He will resist’. It pains me to admit it, but he seems to know you much better than I do!”

“He did get tired of resisting though,” Dijun interjected.

Mo Yuan cleared his throat. “Initially, I brought Shao Wan here because she had been ambushed by the Yellow Demon King and was severely hurt and highly unstable. I had to … she, erm... lost her powers. When I sealed them. She then stayed to benefit from Kunlun’s restorative aura. And after -” he broke off.

“And after?” Zhe Yan said to encourage Mo Yuan to continue.

“After… the time for her departure bears down on us very quickly. She’s now fully healed and has regained her full strength. We have been working on the control of her sky-link power and she has mastered it. I will have to … I will unseal her powers soon and she will leave,” Mo Yuan finished with a sigh.

A glance passed between the two guests. They had come to Kunlun with two questions that had now been answered. First, they were glad to find Shao Wan was well and would soon have her full powers back - there had been rumors of her losing them forever, they had been quite worried - and second, their friend was quite obviously enamoured with her and in denial about it.

“I see,” Dijun finally said into the silence that had fallen after Mo Yuan’s speech. “Kunlun is definitely more interesting than I remember. There are more females?”

“I am sure you know exactly who all these females are, Donghua, your spies never fail you.”

“Of course I know who they are but I am more intrigued as to why they are here. The Mo Yuan I knew thought they were a distraction in his school.”

“Call it fate, if you want. They all came here for refuge and I granted it. Their presence may be causing some unrest in here and outside, but it is to our fullest strategic advantage. We will need the goodwill of the Ghost Tribe in the War to come.”

Dijun nodded. “Are you informed that there has been lots of turmoil in the Ghost realm? The kingdom is extremely unsettled. Most of the Ghost Lords are at odds with each other with no clear leader and I’m sure our favorite Demon King is busy stirring up more trouble. The majority of the Demon realm is still firmly under Cheng Yin’s rule. The only allies we might have are the Purple and the Blue Demon Lords. I have sent out feelers to them and I’m waiting to hear back.”

Mo Yuan nodded. “Our information matches. It causes me great concern that the Demons are quite clearly ready for a military strike and we are not. Also … when I went to get Shao Wan out of the Demon Realm, I had the opportunity to assess their skill level. Cheng Yin’s men were no match for me, though well trained. But their Lord … I had to retreat. He was almost my equal in combat.”

Mo Yuan observed the slight shock on his friends’ faces. It was the same shock that he had felt when he had battled Cheng Yin and had realized he couldn’t defeat him.

Nodding grimly he continued: “Indeed, he is very strong and very cunning. He used poison to weaken me. I don’t like to retreat, but he left me no other option. That’s why I am not taking this incoming war lightly and neither should you. Zhe Yan, I know you have no interest in war talk but Donghua, you need to tell your spies to be extremely alert. We will need all the information we can get to stay one or more steps ahead of the Yellow King. My disciples have commenced training exercises and I know Ye Hua is getting the Celestial army in shape, yet I know we are still at a disadvantage. Getting the Purple and Blue Demon Lords on our side will be a big help.”

“He used poison? You recovered? Should I check on you?” Zhe Yan looked at him with great concern. “You look very well, Mo Yuan, much better than I have seen you in a very long time.”

Mo Yuan shrugged. “The effects did not last long, maybe because my wounds were relatively light?”

The two guests nodded. Even though the seriousness of the situation had fully dawned on them, Zhe Yan smiled and poured the other two new cups of peach wine. “Enough with the morbid talk! Mo Yuan let’s toast to you and Shao Wan today. By the way, where’s the blushing bride?”

Dijun snorted.

“Let one of your boys get her, she’s missing out on some of my finest brew. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes when she hears we didn’t inform her.”

***

Mo Yuan couldn’t keep his eyes off Shao Wan as he watched her trade barbs and insults with Zhe Yan. She had come in quite dishevelled from training with the Princesses and yet to him, she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Upon noticing his guests, she had given a shout of joy and immediately sat down beside Zhe Yan who kept plying her with wine. He …

It didn’t matter. She would soon leave. He had to get used to it.

“So, how is that little fox of yours?” Shao Wan asked Zhe Yan. “I have yet to meet him, but truly, the Fox King gave birth to very accomplished children and grandchildren.”

“He has gone on a tour of his kingdom,” Zhe Yan replied darkly.

Donghua smirked and said with one raised eyebrow: “What he means is they have had a tiff and Bai Zhen has gone off in a huff. It happens about every full moon. How long has he been off this time?”

Zhe Yan said with a scowl: “It’s been about two weeks and it’s no tiff, the boy is just too sensitive and hardheaded.”

At that, Dijun nodded emphatically.

“I will have to go look for him soon. It is too lonely without him,” Zhe Yan sighed. “I believe you have met his fifth sister Bai Qian, Shao Wan, have you not? Mo Yuan’s most beloved disciple before his twin brother snatched her away?”

Shao Wan nodded and pressed her lips together.

“All the fox children are unique, independent, obnoxious and lovable. I am looking forward to you getting to know them better. I know you will be great friends.”

Shao Wan swallowed hard, but nodded again before she continued: “How is Bai Zhi? And what does he think about you sharing a bed with one of his children? Did you not once pursue the now Fox Queen?”

“Ah,” Zhe Yan laughed, “there are not many things that can shake us Old ones, but love certainly can. The happiness of one’s children and friends is what counts at the end. Bai Zhi is well, he is travelling the realms with his lovely wife, knowing the Fox kingdoms are in capable hands. He, too, will be overjoyed to see you again, Little Sister. We all mourned your demise.”

Shao Wan nodded again and looked over to Mo Yuan. He quickly averted his eyes. He would have to make an effort to rejoin the conversation rather than stare at her like a fool.

“Ah, Shao Wan,” Zhe Yan said, “I brought you something.” He reached into his robes and brought out an iridescent flask. “This is an elixir I made for your mount. It will help hasten his cultivation so that he can regain human form quicker. Give him a spoonful every morning and night until the flask is empty.”

Shao Wan went still. “How did you know?” she asked, her voice trembling slightly.

“Mo Yuan sent word about it and asked if I had a way of helping,” Zhe Yan replied.

Mo Yuan was about to deny that he hadn’t done so, since he did not want Shao Wan to feel indebted to him, when he saw Zhe Yan give him a slight shake of the head. Shao Wan stood up and walked towards him, her eyes filled with unshed tears. “Thank you,” she whispered, leant down and kissed him.

It was different from their usual kisses. This was gentle, hardly more than a peck on the lips - but it spoke of emotions they had never acknowledged and it shook him to the core. When she lifted her head, he could see she was just as affected by what had just passed between them. She wanted to move away but he held onto her hands and kept his eyes locked on hers. Stay with me, he wanted to say.

“Uhm, uhm! I am thinking we have to leave the God of War and his bride alone to continue their honeymoon,” Zhe Yan said laughing.

“Silly old Phoenix,” Shao Wan said and straightened, pulling her hands away from Mo Yuan. “Let’s go give Fong Hung his first dose together. It will do your old bones good to get some exercise, especially since you have a young blood to impress.”

Mo Yuan watched as she and Zhe Yan laughingly left the room for the pond. What am I doing? he thought as he closed his eyes. Even though he had steeled himself to let her go, had forced himself to believe it was for the better, he could not continue to fool himself. Just the thought that he wouldn’t be able to see her, worse, would not be able to be with her, made him sick to the stomach. I have been lying to myself all this while. This was never just a passing dalliance. I have fallen in love with her.

The moment he admitted this to himself, he also knew that was precisely the reason he had to let her go. He opened his eyes and saw Donghua staring at him. Sighing, he apologized for being a bad host.

“So, what happens next?” Donghua saw Mo Yuan’s expression and continued, “are the two of you really going to go your separate ways?"

"This is just a sham marriage, Donghua. You know her well, she doesn’t want to be tied down by anyone, least of all by me. You also know the Celestial rules. I am Father Immortal’s son. She is a Demon. Our relationship can’t be.”

Dong Hua rolled his eyes and moved closer to him. “Listen now and let me frank with you, you’re a fool."

Mo Yuan said nothing. He knew Donghua had more to say.

“Considering all the pitiful excuses, I am glad you didn’t try to insult my intelligence by denying how much you care for her.”

“I ...”

“Don’t. Besides the fact that it’s written all over your face even though you try to hide it, the very fact that you have been living with her in harmony on Mount Kunlun for several weeks proves it. You, Mo Yuan, have never done anything that had no deeper meaning.”

“It’s impossible. I don’t think we’re fated for each other,” Mo Yuan said softly. Or are we? Who is to say? his treacherous heart asked, fighting for a glimmer of hope.

“Fate! There’s nothing called fate. We are the writers of our own fate!” Dong Hua exclaimed. He then softened his voice and continued: “Nothing is impossible. Believe me, I know. I have known Shao Wan for a very long time. I have never seen her like this with any other man. You need to make her see what you feel for her. You need to be shameless and use all the advantages you have at your disposal. Do not be scared. You deserve to be happy too.”

Mo Yuan nodded slowly. Truth was, he was tired of fighting his feelings. He was tired of pretending to be unaffected by her departure while in truth his heart hurt every time he imagined himself without her. He was so tired of being alone. Dijun had seen right through him. The main truth was, he was scared. He was terrified of wanting more because he didn’t know how she would react. He knew she couldn’t just stay at Kunlun forever. She had to leave. But that didn’t mean it had to be over. He would make her see just how much she meant to him, make her see just how right they were for each other - and hope that would be enough to convince her they should try and make things work.

Dong Hua searched his face. What he saw must have pleased him because he nodded in satisfaction. “I warn you, if you tell anyone we had this conversation, I will engulf you with Celestial fire.”

Mo Yuan smiled. “Ah? I was about to tell your liege Si Ming. The realms should know the great and mighty Donghua Dijun offers marital advice for free now.”

The look of horror that flashed across Donghua‘s face made him burst into laughter. He felt more optimistic than he had in days. He clasped a hand on Donghua’s shoulder: “My thanks, friend.”

The other man nodded.

Mo Yuan jumped up. “Let’s go join Shao Wan and Zhe Yan. And then, I can show you some battle formations that I have planned to share with Ye Hua. I also need to go rescue my disciples from Si Ming. I am sure he has already got a mass of scandalous news from Kunlun from them.”

With lightness in his heart and spring in his step he led Donghua towards the lotus pool. Maybe it isn’t too late. Maybe all hope is not lost. I deserve to be happy too.