Fanfiction: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan - Chapter 55 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)


Chapter 55

written by kakashi
editing/consulting by Panda, MiniOrchid and Chimera

Shao Wan jumped off her cloud at the location of the Fox Palace and was promptly insulted by an untidy looking, barefooted shrub who came running to block her way. “No strangers are allowed into the Fox Hole during the summer! By Queen Fengjiu’s orders!” he declared pompously and pulled a face, probably meant to intimidate her.

“Where I come from, we use rude shrubs like you as firewood,” she said amiably and shot a series of sparks in his direction.

The wood spirit howled in horror and ran towards the entrance of the Fox abode. “Queen Fengjiu, Queen Fengjiu!!” he hollered.

“What is it, Mi Gu?” said a sweet, high voice and Dijun’s Fox poked her head out. She was wearing a simple, peach colored gown and looked quite preoccupied.

The shrub called Mi Gu pointed accusingly at Shao Wan, who put on her most radiant smile and inclined her head. She and the Fox Queen had been introduced previously during the festival, no need for much additional formality.

Behind the Fox, miniature Dijun appeared. “It's the Demon Queen!” he said, his face lighting up as he bowed.

Shao Wan waved at the Rock’s offspring and he instinctively hid behind his mother before realizing how unmanly that was. He quickly stepped far away from her skirts and put on a haughty face, trying to copy his father.

“What is it you want?” The Fox asked bluntly, looking her up and down, “my husband is attempting to cook and if I don’t return to the stove myself promptly, I fear a calamity might happen.”

“To get drunk with your husband, without having to fear a dagger in my back,” Shao Wan answered and because she was the one asking for favors here, she decided not to make a fuss about being treated below her status.

“Donghua! The Demon High Goddess has come to see you!” Fengjiu yelled into the cave.

“Oh?” came the somewhat uninterested answer, “then let her in already.”

“Please, Demon Queen,” said Dijun’s Fox, “come in and sit. Your appearance is most timely.”

The Fox Palace was...well, hugely disappointing. Shao Wan had at least expected some riches, furs of enemy foxes or the like, but it was just a bare cave with candles and nothing else. She would never understand these foxes and their lackadaisical ways. Their subjects lived magicless like mortals, most of their kings and queens lived in plain holes, and yet, they were by far the happiest, best liked clan in all the realms - and on top of that, very powerful.

Dijun appeared from what must be the kitchen and sauntered over to where Shao Wan was sitting.

“Tea? Wine? Something stronger?” he asked, after arranging his tall frame into a comfortable sitting position opposite her at the stone table.

“We don’t have any of Zhe Yan’s wines left,” Fengjiu called from where she had taken over from Dijun, “he drank it all himself when he was last here with 4th uncle.”

“That is unfortunate,” Dijun said.

“Ah, but we have some of Kunlun’s wine stored away! Remember, high God Mo Yuan gifted us some for our last anniversary?”

Dijun lifted his eyebrows and looked at Shao Wan. “You see, escaping him is quite impossible,” he remarked. “Mi Gu! Please fetch us Mo Yuan’s wines. All of the bottles.”

“Yes, Master,” the servant bowed and shot Shao Wan a foul look as he walked past her. She sighed heavily.

“In over your head?” Dijun asked her. “Being this ambitious at your age is probably quite taxing.”

“It’s all the leftover ambition from you and Zhe Yan that has landed in my lap,” Shao Wan replied and rolled her tense shoulders. All that fighting combined with far too little sleep was taking a toll on her. “So much power, so little use for it.”

“Zhe Yan had use for it. To heal Mo Yuan after you almost killed him.”

“But I didn’t kill him. Even though he deserved it.”

“He deserves it but Cheng Yin doesn’t?” Dijun said sharply. “I did always enjoy you two beating each other up, but this time, you took it too far.”

Shao Wan did not at all like where this conversation was going. She had wanted to have a casual drink with an old friend, whom she knew to be unbiased and completely laid back about the affairs of other immortals. Instead, she was getting a lecture about how to treat Celestial bastards.

“I did what had to be done,” she said irritatedly. As soon as the shrub servant had returned with the wine and filled her cup for the first time, she started downing one after the other, hardly paying any attention to how it tasted. The shrub threw her another foul look and disappeared.

“Are you in a hurry?” Dijun asked her, “or are you trying to drink it all up quickly so that I have to call Mo Yuan here sooner for more wine? I approve, you should apologize to him properly.”

“Why should I have to apologize?” she snapped, now quite fed up with this. “He took my feather. He lied to me. And on top of that, he used me.”

“Used you for…?”

“For his strategizing. He sits on his mountain, thinks about this and that all day, and then makes plans on how to manipulate people. He is completely ruthless.”

Dijun lifted his eyebrows. “You are not entirely wrong but you aren't fully right either. And if he used you, you used him too. What did he tell you before that whole hubbub with the feather?”

Before? Before... there had been the comforting warmth of his body behind her. Whispers in the dark. Her determination to drive him away from her...

“Nothing of consequence,” she lied.

“He didn’t confess?”

Her heart jumped painfully in her chest. “ what?”

“You know exactly what I mean. You may have forgotten, but I saw him a few days before you left Mount Kunlun. I saw what you had turned him into: A man so deeply lost there is no way back for him. It is remarkable he even let it go that far. And perchance, I saw you there too.”

“I did what had to be done,” she repeated sullenly. Mo Yuan, lost? Mo Yuan was never lost. He always knew exactly where he was going.

“For what?” Dijun gave back, “power? Imagine how powerful you two can be together. I shudder at the thought.”

She said nothing but downed more wine. Gun Gun came scuttling in and put some glazed nuts on the table in front of them, bowing deeply. “My mother says you should never drink too much wine on an empty stomach,” he recited.

“Your mother is a wise woman,” Dijun said and nodded gravely. “Go and tell her to teach you how to cook. It is a very useful skill for capturing ladies hearts, I hear.”

Eagerly complying, little Gun Gun left them alone again.

“You will immediately surpass your father in this,” Shao Wan shouted after him and shuddered.

Dijun snorted. “How offensive. I have much improved my sweet and sour fish dish since you last tried it. I was in fact just trying out a new version before you arrived.”

No wonder the Fox Queen had called her arrival “timely”. Had she known what unusual mood she would find Donghua Dijun in, she would have quickly turned around and left again. And there he went and looked at her anew like he was not done with his lecture.

“I believe he confessed to you and you got scared,” Dijun challenged her. “Most people are dead afraid of the God of War. There’s no shame in it.”

“I am not scared of him!” she scoffed.

“So he didn’t say anything with regards to you and him?”

“Well...he did mention his heart.” She felt relief to say it out loud. It had troubled her quite a bit, the memory of Mo Yuan saying You are mistaken if you think I give away my heart lightly and am swayed easily from what I have set my mind to. Maybe Dijun would be able to tell her how to understand this rather unsettling statement for the trickery it had to be.

“And you broke it?”

“That man has no heart that can be broken, you know this as well as I do. Leaving his blasted mountain and his influence was the best thing I have done ever since my return to the realms.”

“You are an extremely cold woman. Don’t you know how he is? He never does anything unless he is absolutely sure.”

“You even make it seem like you care.”

Dijun snorted. “I do care about many things. Well...not many, but a few. And one thing I care about is Mo Yuan. He always tried so hard to enjoy himself when we were idling around in school, but he never managed to. Being the son his father deserved demanded his full attention.”

Now it was Shao Wan’s turn to snort. “You want me to pity him for being a know-it-all who never had any fun? Methinks you must be drunk already.”

“Why do you think Zhe Yan and I always cheered when you challenged him to a duel? Those were the only times he could truly enjoy himself.”

He made her uncomfortable, this Dijun who talked about the feelings of someone else. “You get very emotional for a rock,” she scoffed.

“I cannot stand to see him in pain, I never could. He is suffering too much, and he did nothing wrong.”

“Is he not healed by now?”

Dijun threw her an amused look: “You remind me of someone else right now. Maybe it’s this cave that brings out the denseness in people.”

Shao Wan mumbled something to herself, feeling foolish for having come at all. It was just...she felt so tired since she had left Kunlun. She did not sleep well, but could not rely on sleeping potions for fear of sleeping too soundly, despite her bodyguards. They were eager to please her, but so very young and most likely foolish…she couldn’t even fully trust the air at her own palace, seeing how Cheng Yin had gotten to her last time. But she should have known Dijun would not and could not give her what she craved right now: encouragement so that she could keep going, confirmation that she was doing the right thing.

“You also know Mo Yuan would never have taken your feather,” the silver-haired God said and flicked some dust off his robe.

“But he had it”, she said stubbornly, “which means he must have taken it at some point.”

Dijun shook his head at her. “Was there blood on your feather?”

“Blood? There was...something, yes.” It had taken many spells to get completely rid of it.

“And you know who the biggest master in blood magic is, right? We would love to know how he got that feather to Kunlun, but most importantly, it should worry you that he has the ability to fool Mo Yuan like this. I was hoping it wouldn’t be true, but it seems he's fooling you too. Or no… you're fooling yourself,” he added after a short look in her direction.

Of course, Cheng Yin. It had only taken one sleepless night to come to that conclusion. She had played that scene in her head so many times. The surprise, nay shock on Mo Yuan’s face when he had sensed her feather in the elixir chamber. His expression when he had opened his fist to look what it was that disturbed the energy at Kunlun so massively.

“Why did he not defend himself if he had no fault?“ she asked angrily. “He could have said something instead of only glaring at me.”

“Because he is Mo Yuan. He is too proud to beg or to reason.”

Yes. A foolish man.

“Well, what is done is done,” she said, repeating what she told herself daily.

“I hope for your sake you will not suddenly come to regret your decision, Shao Wan. Once he cuts you out of his life for good, he won’t let you back in.”

“You mean like when he agreed to kill me so that Purple and Blue can divide the Demon Realm between themselves?”

Dijun looked angry all of a sudden. “You must have known exactly that you teaming up with the Yellow Demon King would force everybody’s hand, including his. And I am also sure you knew full well how the God of War would react to the news that you’re sleeping with that Demon scum again.”

“Who...who said that?” Shao Wan exclaimed, quite horrified. “And you believe this vicious rumor? A good friend you are,” she added bitterly.

Dijun just looked at her but said nothing.

“I would never stoop that low,” she added more quietly. “Even if my bedroom matters are none of your business at all, you can go tell him that I’m most certainly not sleeping with Cheng Yin. No, I got myself a shy, young and very submissive boy to take care of my urges.”

“A damn I will do,” Dijun said with an icy smile. “You can go tell him yourself if his opinion is something you still care about.”

Shao Wan fell quiet. No, she wouldn’t and couldn't regret. She had started on this path and she would walk it to the end. All that mattered was that she had her feather. The rest was of no importance. The hearts of Celestials were nothing but trouble, she wanted nothing to do with them.

They drank in silence and Shao Wan was glad to she felt the effect of Mo Yuan’s wine in her head now. It was just like him, this wine - outwardly gentle and inwardly fierce and merciless. Or was it the other way round? Why could she not stop thinking of this blasted man. After a while more, the Fox Queen came from the kitchen, carrying a tray laden with food, followed by their son, also carrying a tray laden with food.

“Please stay and have dinner with us, High Goddess,” said Fengjiu, “there is plenty.”

Shao Wan wanted to decline, but Gun Gun had already put his tray in front of her. “I made these for you,” he said shyly and stood still, eyes downcast. She looked at him, confused, until she realized he probably wanted to be praised.

“It looks delicious,” she said, “it is my honor to taste the food that you have made for me, little prince.”

Gun Gun bowed deeply, chopsticks in his outstretched hands. Dijun snickered, Fengjiu smiled and Shao Wan took them, murmuring more thanks. Her stomach growled. She was using random maids as tasters for all the food and drinks in her Palace, but she still did not feel secure and that often killed her appetite.

They started the meal and Shao Wan found herself helping herself to more and more. Everything was delicious, from the mushroom stew to the chicken legs, and Gun Gun made sure her bowl was never empty. One dish in particular, she liked so much she almost wanted to lick the bowl clean.

“That is a fish dish that I adapted from a Kunlun recipe,” Fengjiu said, who had noticed Shao Wan’s delight.

She hadn’t expected the Fox Queen to be that friendly - she had always believed she had somehow offended these women, without understanding how. “You have such a recipe!” she declared, in awe. But of course, Fengjiu’s aunt had spent a long time living at Kunlun and it was only natural that the Foxes would know how to make food after the Kunlun fashion.

“Do you want me to write it down for you?” the Fox Queen asked, “it is not hard. Do you cook yourself, Demon High Goddess?”

Dijun chuckled. “Please, Fengjiu. Demon Royalty doesn’t lift a finger. Shao Wan has probably never even seen a kitchen from the inside!”

“Oh,” Fengjiu said, “my apologies, Demon Queen. I did not know.”

“That is not true,” Shao Wan started to defend herself, “I have seen Kunlun’s…” too late she realized that this gave the silver-haired God a new opportunity to tease her.

Dijun’s eyebrows went up. “Kunlun’s kitchens? This day is full of surprises.”

“Oh,” Fengjiu said intrigued, “does High God Mo Yuan know how to cook too, just like his brother?”

Shao Wan nodded, lips a tight line. That went without saying, since he knew how to do everything. Except maybe talk to people so that they understood what he meant to say.

“I have always wondered where the Crown Prince acquired his cooking skills, Donghua, do you know?” Fengjiu smiled at her husband. “I’m even more surprised the Master of Kunlun Mountain knows how to cook. He doesn’t seem that...domestic.”

“The Crown Prince probably read about it in books and then applied his theoretical knowledge perfectly the first time he tried. As for Mo Yuan...he learned to cook in the mortal realm.”

“Do tell,” Fengjiu said and moved closer to Dijun, “are you alluding to his ascension trial?”

“It is not something he ever talks about, Xiao Bai, and not for me to share,” Dijun said and lightly touched the tip of her nose.

Fengjiu settled back to her previous place, pouting a little. “My husband always defends High God Mo Yuan, whatever he does,” she said to Shao Wan, “I have never liked him, he scares me. He is always so grave! And he gave us much trouble when we had to hide away his body…”

Dijun threw her a look, but Shao Wan said: “I know about the heartblood.”

“Then he has confessed more than I thought,” said Dijun. “Amazing. Old dogs can learn new tricks after all.”

“But Gu Gu admires him more than anyone,” Fengjiu prattled on. “Well…she admires her husband too, of course, but differently. Mo Yuan was first, after all.”

“How is High Goddess Bai Qian,” Shao Wan thought it polite to ask, “is the pregnancy going well?”

“Yes, yes,” said Fengjiu, “well, the usual aches and mood swings, I guess. She is lucky, she is not feeling as much nausea as I did during my pregnancy.”

Fengjiu paused and threw Dijun a look. Something passed between the two that spoke of heartache - but a heartache that was in the past, one that only made their bond stronger. Shao Wan quickly turned her head away, discomforted to be privy to such intimacy.

“Next time you see her, you can’t beat up Crown Princess Bai Qian,” Dijun said to her. “You can’t even glare at her, it might upset the Heavenly fetus.”

“It was always her who started it!” Shao Wan exclaimed, “I am so glad I have finally had a chance to talk to Fox Queen Fengjiu, now I know it’s not fox women in general that take offense whenever they see me!”

“Fox women are territorial too,” Dijun explained, “and when two territorial creatures meet, a fight is only natural.”

“Somebody has to talk Gu Gu out of wanting to command her own army,” Fengjiu said, not paying him any heed, “the Crown Prince is just much too smitten, he never denies her anything.”

“In the war?” Shao Wan asked, feeling uncomfortable all of a sudden.

“Yes, she talks about it all the time. She says Crown Prince Ye Hua promised her she could be on the battlefield next to him. She won’t hear reason!”

“Talk to Mo Yuan,” Dijun said to his wife, “he has much influence over her. She will listen to her Shifu.”

“That is a good idea,” Fengjiu sighed, “especially since Gu Gu is so worried about him right now, she'll do anything to ease his mind. When she came to visit not long ago, she would talk about nothing else but how she had never seen him like this before.”

Dijun shot Shao Wan a “told you so”-look. She pressed her lips together again. What was wrong with the Celestial bastard? Why was he sitting on his mountain, moping around?

“Is it your doing?” Fengjiu asked Shao Wan in her obviously customary blunt way. “Are you that powerful? You can beat the God of War?”

“I am not sure I can,” Shao Wan said quietly, “but I will keep trying.”

It was time to leave.

“I would be happy to spar with you some day, Fox Queen,” Shao Wan said, feeling fondness for the sly Fox Queen, “but not today. I thank you for this wonderful meal, but now, I need to return to my Realm.”

“I hope you can visit us again,” said Fengjiu, “my husband has told me a lot about you and I have always been curious to get to know such a legend. Oh, let me write that recipe down for your cooks.”

“May I call upon you in turn?” piped little Gun Gun. Shao Wan laughed. Little Dijun was too adorable.

Dijun rolled his eyes. “You have to grow much taller, son,” he said, “before I let you go to the Demon Realm alone. They will think you’re a snack.”

After Fengjiu had given her a slip of paper with the recipe, Dijun walked Shao Wan out.

“Zhe Yan said he will have another elixir ready for your mount,” he said when they had descended the steps. “Go pick it up in two days.”

“Thank you. I appreciate it. I feared-”

“It was good to see you,” Dijun said, “even though I think you made a grave mistake with Mo Yuan.”

“I won’t be coming by again soon,” Shao Wan said with a heavy heart.

“It is what I expected,” Dijun said quietly. “Be well.“

She looked for a convenient cloud, but then stopped and turned back to her friend. “For the sake of the past and a friendship I always valued, Donghua, a parting gift: I want you to know that I have identified each and every informant you have in the Demon Realm. I let them live.”

Dijun’s eyes grew wary.

“Yes, what you are thinking is correct. You can no longer trust what they are telling you.”

“So you’re really doing this,” Dijun sighed.

“Your Celestial friend cannot win the war. He can try, but he will fail, even if you choose to help him. Everything you think you know is wrong. Our number of troops? Look again. Look anywhere you can look.”

Before Dijun could respond, Shao Wan nodded once and cloud jumped away, back to the Demon Realm, where no food could be trusted and she had to expect a dagger in her back at any moment.

Chapter 56