Fanfiction: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan - Chapter 40b (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)


Chapter 40b

written by kakashi
edited by Chimera, Miniorchid and Panda

Mo Yuan closed the door to his room behind himself, gently, so as not to give Shao Wan the impression of being displeased. He started walking toward his meditation cave with measured steps. Very well, he would spend the night there if he must.

In the hall, he encountered Chang Shan, who had started sweeping. He had repeatedly suggested to his 2nd disciple he should delegate more of his tasks to his juniors, but Chang Shan was quite stubborn when it came to his duties. He considered the upkeep of Kunlun his prime responsibility and even if he kept all his younger disciples busy with chores, he was always the one staying up, correcting mistakes and perfecting everything at the end of the day.

2nd disciple bowed to him. “Where is Shimu?” he asked, puzzled.

“Tired,” Mo Yuan responded curtly.

Chang Shan frowned, but Mo Yuan shot him a stern look for being nosy. This day had been troublesome enough already, he had no patience left.

“Shifu, with your permission,” Chang Shan said anyway, and Mo Yuan realized from his disciple’s squirming this was not about Shao Wan but about something personal.

“Speak.”

“I found a female swan in my room earlier today,” the disciple began. “It seems slightly injured. May I keep it here until it is healed?”

Mo Yuan’s eyebrows shot up. A swan? “I don’t believe a swan will make a difference,” he said, “but I do wonder when the influx of female guests will stop.”

“I will make sure she will not discomfort you in any way,” Chang Shan quickly said, seemingly relieved and yet anxious.

“She can swim in the lotus pond or in the Pool of Heavenly Infinity,” Mo Yuan said, “but make sure she and Fong Hung get along.”

“Yes, Shifu! Thank you, Shifu!” Chang Shan called after him as Mo Yuan continued striding towards his meditation cave.

Once there, the God of War considered sitting in the dark to collect his thoughts, but his thoughts were in such turmoil, he decided he would read a bit of poetry first to distract himself. With a flick of his hand, he lighted the candles. Not long ago he had been in here with Shao Wan, attempting to teach her to control her powers. It had been quite a failure. She continued to have issues with concentrating while his heart had not been in it either. He had lost his patience with her and she had been considerably miffed.

Not for the first time, he questioned his decision to bring her here. It was not like him to be reckless. And yet, he had recklessly if not foolishly rushed to the Demon Realm to save her, without considering the consequences at all. He had nothing to give her, not even enough of his time. He had no maids for her and no rooms befitting her status, and the few presents he had bought were a mockery of what a Queen was due. What was far worse though, he had nothing to say to her about the future. Every time he found her sitting around like a bird with broken wings, he felt pain in his heart and guilt in his gut. It was him who had broken those wings out of selfishness and even if it had seemed like the only thing to do at the time, it was the worst he had ever done to any living being.

Selfishness, a natural impulse of the young, was one of the first things that had been purged from his life when he was a child. He was Father Deity’s son and he had to do what was expected of him, without ever forming a desire of his own. He had never considered himself luckier than others, even when everybody else kept calling him that. He may be the only being born from Mother Deity’s belly, but his parents were not his alone: they were father and mother of all creation. He had been the only child in the Heavens. It was a grand and immensely lonely place, where the only things to do were cultivating and martial arts training.

Due to his loneliness, there had been one, only one selfish thing he had ever done before he had brought Shao Wan to Kunlun. After his third visit to the mortal realm, when he was about A-li’s age, he had taken home a black tortoise.

He had found it sitting in the sun outside a small village. The animal had looked at him with its wise, old eyes and little Mo Yuan had felt a great desire to find out its secret. He had quickly put the turtle into his sleeve pocket and had smuggled it up into his palace. He had not dared give it a name, because he expected daily that somebody would find and remove it and he was certain he would feel the loss much more acutely if he named the animal.

But nobody had found it. He had kept his secret well, hiding the small tortoise with special invisibility spells, feeding it with grass and fruit when nobody was around, watching it walk slowly across the large open spaces of the Palace for days. It had always seemed determined and yet infinitely patient, even though it had never reached an end. It was a great mystery, the ways of the tortoise and despite his extensive studies, Mo Yuan had never found out its secrets.

183 years after he brought the tortoise to his palace, it had died, despite the divine energy in the Nine Heavens. Mo Yuan was not allowed to cry, so he had not. But he had learned an important lesson: Selfishness, like all the lower emotions, was always punished. He had brought this pain onto himself and now he had to suffer the consequences. At least, he had been provident enough not to make the tortoise his friend. It had remained nameless until the end.

This time, things were far worse. When he had allowed selfishness to guide his actions again, he had brought harm to someone. And yet, despite this knowledge, he had the audacity to continue to be selfish, to continue to hold Shao Wan captive without her powers, to continue to allow his desires to guide his actions.

When he had started noticing changes in her behavior recently, he had almost felt relief that she was making her move. He had been expecting it to happen much earlier - he was amazed that she had been tolerant of him for that long. He had caught her looking at him more often, unsmiling, often frowning. She had started to occupy herself with training the Princesses to distance herself from him. He had watched the women from the shadows a few times, feeling both proud and inexplicably sad. But most noticeable, she had started to change her behavior in the bedroom. She became less uninhibited and less needy. She tried to match his slowness, interrupting the rhythm they had grown used to. He was not sure how to interpret her new passiveness and he had come to the conclusion that she must be growing tired of him.

That this assumption was confirmed on this day of all days was only fitting. It had been thoroughly unpleasant from beginning to end. After his fight with Shao Wan in the morning, Mo Yuan had had to go up to the Nine Heavens to talk to the Clan Leaders about the men they should provide for the Celestial army. Back when he had to do the same thing before the Ghost War, there had already been many who were displeased by how the Heavenly Lord ruled the realms. This had not changed in the 71’000 years after the War. The Clans still felt neglected, distrustful, disenchanted - and nobody understood why the Heavenly Lord had not passed on the throne to his Crown Prince yet.

Mo Yuan had sat in council, had listened to the endless excuses those men had prepared for not sending more than a mere handful of soldiers and great anger had boiled up in him. His face must have shown it, because Bai Qian, who sat next to Ye Hua, threw him a look full of concern. The Clan Leaders saw it too and they had become marginally more polite, but Mo Yuan knew, the first battle would have to be fought against their obstinacy before any battle could be fought against the Demons.

He had taken his leave quickly afterwards, declining to drink tea with Ye Hua and Bai Qian. He had sought out Taichen Palace - but Dijun was not there. On his way back to the gates, he had wanted to calm his heart by gazing upon the lotuses in the pond, but fate drove him right into the path of Yue Lao, the God of Marriage. The old man hardly greeted him, but threw him a look of such great displeasure that Mo Yuan stopped dead in his tracks. Yue Lao shook the book of marriage at him and extended his index finger in a gesture of warning before turning around with swishing robes and disappearing as quickly as his old legs could carry him.

Mo Yuan groaned in the loneliness of his meditation cave. He should have recognized this as a bad omen. He would have returned to Kunlun earlier instead of going to the mortal realm and he would have had time to talk to Shao Wan about their fight in the morning. He would have held her in his arms. He would have buried his face in her hair and he would have whispered into her ear how much he had missed her all day. Maybe it would have been enough to keep her happy just a bit longer.

He had known from the start he would be punished for his selfishness again. But he had not foreseen how much harder it would be to guard his heart this time.