Fanfiction: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan - Chapter 72 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 72

written by Panda
edited by kakashi

“What do they want?”


“What do they want?” Mo Yuan looked at his brother impatiently. Surely, it could not be that shocking?

“An alliance, Da-Ge.”

“Yes? We want the same.”

“... by marriage. The Horse King’s daughter with someone from the royal family.”

Mo Yuan sighed. He should have seen this coming, if he had not been too preoccupied with other matters. “Whom do they have in mind? The only unmarried ones…”

“...are Uncle Lian Song - and you.”

“I’m not of the royal family,” Mo Yuan said with a scowl.

“But you are Father Immortal’s son...the most eligible bachelor in all the realms. It looks like they want to raise their status among the tribes.”

“I would of course do it,” said Lian Song, his slightly high-pitched voice betraying his nervousness, “but they particularly mentioned you, High God Mo Yuan.”

“But I’ll not do it.” Mo Yuan said with emphasis and without even contemplating. He had let himself be pressured into marriage once before, with rather disastrous results, and he wasn’t keen to find himself in a similar situation so soon.

“I understand, Da-Ge…,” Ye Hua said and seemed honestly relieved. Mo Yuan now understood his brother’s reluctance to convey the message better: Ye Hua had feared he would feel pressured to commit to something he was antipathetic to. Lian Song on the other hand looked rather spooked now.

“Third Prince Lian Song, you won’t have to marry anyone either,” Mo Yuan said, making a point to have his gaze linger on Lian Song, whose tense face changed into a relieved grin instantly. “I am sure there are other things we can offer in a negotiation.”

“I have heard about this woman,” Lian Song said, absentmindedly fiddling with his fan, “that she is very beautiful and very fierce, raised just like a man.”

“Yes?” said Mo Yuan. “And? Get to the point.”

“If you were to offer…,” Lian Song made a dramatic pause.

“Yes, Third Prince? What else do I have to offer beside my body?” Mo Yuan said with a tint of irony in his voice.

“Your tutelage,” said Ye Hua’s uncle.

The suggestion gave Mo Yuan pause. It was very clever. But a female student? He had firm rules about not taking any female disciples and he had upheld it until Zhe Yan and the Jade Fan of Kunlun had made him admit Si Yin. That, too, had been rather disastrous, all things considered.

“I’ll think about it.” But Mo Yuan already knew that his options were very limited at this time.

Lian Song nodded his head in satisfaction and excused himself for a bit, while Ye Hua’s face remained blank. Not paying any attention to his persistent headache, Mo Yuan glanced at his brother - who looked outright exhausted, at least to an eye who could read that particular face well. Mo Yuan was worried that Ye Hua was overextending himself, something he could not tell his brother because it would offend him. Ye Hua had saved him in the mortal realm, he had come without hesitation to the Peace meeting to support him, and had still found time to visit all the other tribes to get them to commit to fighting in the war. And since the Water Princess death, he had joined forces with Mo Yuan and his disciples to actively look for clues as to who was the culprit.

Yes, Ye Hua had been immensely supportive, on top of his many duties as Crown Prince, while he...he had been despicably self-centered, giving his own personal affairs more weight than his duties.

That had to stop.

With the murder of the Water Princess, the relations between the Water Kingdoms had deteriorated to the point where a civil war among two of the most important pillars of the Celestial army was more than a possibility. The grieving, pompous and narrow-minded King of the East Seas had declared he would take revenge and was already amassing his army at the border to the West Kingdom. It turned out he had had Die Feng spied on ever since Die Yong had run off, so as to prevent a reoccurrence of that embarrassment. Apparently, he had seen the Yellow Demon Princess and Die Feng together before the wedding and was now claiming that his sister’s murder had either been planned by both of them or, at least, definitely involved the Princess with Die Feng being complicit.

Of course, there was no possibility of Die Feng being involved in such an act and Mo Yuan was convinced that the Yellow Princess was innocent as well - she was naive and kind, easily manipulated, but definitely not a murderer. To prevent an escalation of the situation, two of his disciples had previously gone to meet Die Feng and this very morning, six more had sought permission to go assist their Senior.

“Da-Ge. Have you sent word to the Ghost realm yet”? Ye Hua’s quiet voice interrupted his reverie.

“Yes. We should soon have word from my Disciple who is presently staying there. I trust he will get the Ghost Clans support in this matter. He has to.”

Though they did not yet have any solid proof to who was behind the despicable act, the one person who was profiting from this crisis the most was the Yellow Demon King. And as much as Mo Yuan despised that man, he had to grudgingly admit that he was very clever: He had managed to put Mo Yuan into a situation in which every further step let to an undesired outcome. If they did not find the evidence of who had killed the Water Princess quickly, the Western Sea Kingdom would be drawn into a bloody civil war against the Eastern Sea Kingdom. Mo Yuan could intervene with Heavenly soldiers to pacify the situation, leaving his armies weakened and preoccupied with internal matters, a perfect opportunity for the Demons to attack - or he could stand back and watch his allies slaughter themselves, with the exact same result. On the other hand, if they found the evidence and it really pointed to the Yellow King, then Mo Yuan was certain the rash Eastern King would pressure him into starting the war against the Demons immediately to take revenge. Even the West would have an interest to go to war quickly.

“Ye Hua,” Mo Yuan said with a sigh, “I fear we need to get ready much faster than we thought. I do not believe any longer that I can prevent this war from happening.”

“Yes, Da-Ge. I know that with your guidance, we’ll be ready to face our enemies on the battlefield tomorrow.”

But I am not ready at all, Mo Yuan wanted to confess to his brother. Ah, how he longed to have some wine with his twin, in the crisp evening air of Kunlun, and to talk about pleasing things that had nothing to do with politics or war.

“Da-Ge, with your permission, it has been a long time since we’ve last had the chance to speak in private. There is something I am curious about,” Ye Hua began diffidently, which immediately put Mo Yuan on guard. He had previously observed that Ye Hua turned more hesitant when he wanted to ask him about personal affairs. And, despite his earlier thoughts, that was the last thing he wanted to talk about right now. Still, he nodded permissively.

“When I found you in dragon form in the mortal realm, I met a small mortal boy. I could detect no spiritual energy around him yet he had no fear of me at all, not even in my true form. He called himself the Son of the Dragon and bade me take very good care of you. It was a most peculiar situation and I must admit, I…” Ye Hua cast a side look at Mo Yuan and immediately backed off. “I am sorry, Da-Ge, I didn’t mean to pry.”

To say that Mo Yuan was thunderstruck was putting it lightly. Him and Shao Wan had battled for such a long time, traversing so many mortal realms, and yet, in the end, they had ended up in that world? He must have instinctively sought it out in his troublemaking true form.

“Are you not well, Da-Ge?”, Ye Hua looked at him with concern, “you are too pale these days. I will ask Zhe Yan to provide you with more elixirs.”

Mo Yuan rubbed the barely healed scar near his heart. It hurt him a lot, on and off, and the pain extended into his head, making it hum with constant tension. He considered it a welcome punishment for his recent actions and a valuable reminder to stop being a fool. He even had hoped she would come to Kunlun to see him, for several days. Of course, she had not come.

“It is no matter,” he said, but of course, it was.

Ye Hua seemed to debate with himself whether to say anything further, when Chang San came into the room with Lian Song in tow. “Shifu, the horses have been saddled and are waiting for you. Everything is ready for you to commence your trip. Please stay safe."

Since time was of the essence, they were at the Kunlun Gates in no time, where 15th Disciple was waiting with the animals. Two horses carried supplies, the rest was for them to ride. The Xì Mǎ Yú clan was the Horse breeder’s clan that lived in the rolling grasslands in the Far West, and their Kingdom had a strict rule that people that came to trade for their horses had to come to them on horses. It was also conventional wisdom to play by someone’s rules if one wanted something from a person without applying force.

Plus, it was good exercise for them in preparation for the war, Mo Yuan thought, as he leaped on his horse, took the reins and with a tightening of his thighs motioned to animal to start trotting, even if it cost them time. And it gave him time to focus and move on.

When he had transformed back, he had been even more light headed than usual. However, this time, he remembered every detail of what had happened in perfect clarity. She had touched him, tenderly. He had cried. Never before in his life had his heart ached so much. Saying goodbye to her felt like dying. Breaking his own vow, he had gone to check on her afterwards to see whether the blood therapy really worked, but he had not been able to watch her suffering for long and had left after taking some elixirs form Zhe Yan - also because staying any longer was pointless.

Shao Wan couldn’t have made it more apparent that she wanted nothing to do with him again. He was forever the fool, for having dreams about them settling their issues and being able to live together in peace. He hungered for what his brother and Donghua, what Zhe Yan had - to love and be loved back, to give and take, to walk their immortal lives together. He knew how independent Shao Wan was and would have never wanted to bind her to him if she didn’t want to. All he had hoped for was that they would have been together. Somehow. Sometime.

It was time he went back to believing it was not possible. He would not push again. He would try and accept that it was his fate to be forever unloved by the woman he loved.


The Horse Tribe inhabited a vast, overall flat area in the immortal realms, at the edge of Celestial territory. Their homelands were characterized by rolling green pastures alternating with large fields of grain. The air was pleasant and fragrant, lush streams crisscrossed the green and brown fields, sparkling like strings of jewels in the sunlight. Huge bell-shaped trees, under which horses gathered in the shade, swishing their tails contentedly, dotted the fields.

The visitors urged their horses down the path to the King’s palace, notable for its blunt beigeness. Alerted by a bell on the watch tower, the Horse Tribe King Tian Sun hurried out, followed by a few servants, pulling his brown robes tighter together as he strode towards his visitors. Mo Yuan’s plan to impress the man obviously worked, the King was noticeably overwhelmed by so many high-born visitors.

“High God Mo Yuan, Prince Lian Song, Crown Prince,” the King said bowing repeatedly after they had dismounted, “you do my humble abode great honor by coming. Please enter.”

He led them to a plain, yet large room that seemed made for gatherings and indicated to them to sit on some benches, where a servant hastily put on some cushions for their comfort. The room was austere, devoid of fancy furnishings, and entirely done in shades of brown. Only three items provided color to the room: One was a huge tapestry hanging over the mantel of a fireplace. Although its edges were fraught with age, the picture of the woman in it was still vibrant with color and shimmered as though it had a protective shield over it. The other two sources were two magnificent swords on the opposite wall, their golden handles encrusted by jewels: one by rubies and the other by sapphires.

After the servants had served them refreshments and snacks, Ye Hua looked at Mo Yuan and on his nod, spoke.

“Horse King Tian Sun, I conveyed your demands to High God Mo Yuan and I am afraid - we cannot meet them. Yet, we do hope to find another possibility to forge an alliance between your tribe and ours. That is why we are here.”

The Horse King didn’t seem surprised in the least, Mo Yuan thought. He was a simple, unpretentious man, but with keen, sharp eyes that spoke of wit and intelligence. He turned and bowed to Mo Yuan. “I dare say you will be very sorry, High God Mo Yuan, for your decision. There is no better woman in the realms than my daughter! Yet, I must honor your decision. We are mere horse breeders, often wading ankle deep in mud and horse excrement - a match between heavenly nobility and us, it’s indeed far fetched.”

Mo Yuan shook his head to indicate that was not the reason he was against such a marriage, but the truth was, the Heavens would probably have been utterly scandalized indeed. That, he thought, he would have liked to see.

“God of War,” the King continued, “I have a different demand indeed, already foreseeing your negative answer. If I may be so bold as to ask, if not your bride, could my daughter become one of your students? It would be a great honor for her to hold the position as the first official female disciple at Kunlun Mountains.”

Lian Song snorted faintly beside him, but Mo Yuan paid him no heed. “Horse King, that is indeed an arrangement that could work,” he stated, wondering whether Lian Song had just been very perceptive or whether he had actually worked towards this outcome behind their backs for fear of being married to a Horse Princess. “However, I cannot make any such promises. I choose my disciples because they excel in a particular field. I would have to meet the princess before making a decision.”

Tian Sun took a long swig from his goblet and set it back on the table with a small thud. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and then said with a firm voice: “I am afraid, Your Highnesses, that I will need a more definitive answer before we can promise help with our horses and their riders.”

“We understand,” Ye Hua said. “ We wouldn’t want you to do anything your people might not like, how...”

“However, I doubt your people would appreciate being decimated by the Demon tribe.” Mo Yuan continued coldly. He leant forward, his gaze fixed on his host. “If the Demons win, they will have no use for you. And if I win, I will remember how you refused to provide me your services. Choose wisely, Horse King.”

The only sounds to be heard in the room afterwards were faint shouts from outside and the Horse King’s rapid breathing. The man’s eyes showed shock...then fear...then rage...and then, laughter. “I am honored to have seen the God of War’s legendary wrath up close,” he chuckled, wiping his brow. “I meant no offense. I am not very clever when it comes to negotiations either. But I am confident you will find my daughter to your liking. You might even change your mind on that other matter.”

“Thank you for your assistance,” Ye Hua said, “The Heavens greatly value your loyalty.”

Looking quite happy, the Horse King nodded. “I will call an audience with my daughter now, if you so please. But before I do,” he motioned to their drinks, “if you have finished partaking in your drinks, maybe you would like to see some of our stables? They are the pride and joy of our Kingdom.”

Lian Song quickly responded that they would love to and the King accompanied them outside, shooting Mo Yuan furtive looks from the side. As they walked through the humble palace and unto the immense pastures that stretched as far as the eyes could see, the earthy smell of hay and horse flesh filled the air. Mo Yuan breathed in deeply. A sense of nostalgia hit him. The smell reminded him of his mortal sojourns and what it felt like to be there, away from all the responsibilities, however brief the time.

They soon got to a pasture full of the most magnificent horses he had ever seen. The Horse King gestured to them with pride. “You see here some of our most prized stock. The bloodlines of these horses can be traced back to the very first horses in existence, Your Highnesses. These animals are young and are currently being broken in. We are right in time for their exercise.” He gestured to some wooden stands. “Please let’s sit there. You are in for a treat.”

After sitting down, Mo Yuan surveyed the field, noticing sounds of men shouting and the occasional drum beat. He knew it was to get the horses used to noise and chaos, so that they were less skittish in actual battle situations. There were various Xi Ma Yu tribesmen on the field and on horseback, some in battle formation, all clad in dark brown tunics with black pants and their hair tied at the back of their heads. It was obvious they were experts in what they were doing. For the first time in a long while, Mo Yuan felt a stirring of confidence that a victory in the upcoming war might be possible. The added cavalry, one of this excellence no less, might well be the advantage he so desperately needed.

One rider on his horse caught Mo Yuan’s special attention. The horse was a beautiful stallion of a dark brown that almost looked black, depending on how the light fell on his shiny coat. He had two white socks, a line of white ran down its forehead, a huge chest with huge shoulders and a jet black mane. He was also very spirited and was trying his best to dislodge the person sitting on his back. The horse antics didn’t disturb the rider much and Mo Yuan observed with interest how the rider managed to gain control, rode the horse hard for three lengths of the field, and then bent over to whisper something in his ears while rubbing its flank. When the rider slowly rose on the still galloping horse, going from half crouched to fully standing, Mo Yuan lifted his brows in wonderment. A treat indeed.

But the Horse King gave a shout of annoyance at the display and angrily signaled for the exercise to be over. The sudden gong startled the horse, and yet, the rider managed to let himself fall down in a sitting position and bring the wild horse to a standstill. He dismounted gracefully by swinging both legs over its rump and sliding down.

All the riders were now aware of their King and some visitors in the stand and approached in an orderly manner to bow their King and to their guests and then left in the direction of some barracks. All, except one. It was the rider he had been observing, Mo Yuan realized.

With more than a little pride in his voice, the Horse King introduced him: “Please meet my only daughter, the youngest of my ten children, Princess Tian Gu (天鶻).”

The Princess bowed once more, this time formally greeting all of them in turn.

That Mo Yuan had mistaken her for a man was not surprising, she could easily pass for a young lad. She stood not too tall, was very slender, yet she conveyed stability and strength. Her skin was tanned, her eyebrows straight, and her eyes were of a most unusual dark shade of blue. She quickly dropped her gaze as their eyes met and blushed violently. He noticed that her hair was of the the same deep brown as the horse he had admired previously.

Lian Song had been right about one thing, she was certainly very beautiful.

The Horse King turned to Mo Yuan. “I know you wanted to test her. She will go freshen up, she will put on some suitable clothes, and then she will meet up with you later inside.”

“No need for unnecessary formalities,” Mo Yuan said and stood up, “I can talk to her now.”

He observed a brief flash of apprehension on the woman’s face as he approached, which was quickly replaced by determination.

“Greetings, High God,” she murmured with a soft, melodious voice that did not quite fit the iron-willed determination with which she had handled that wild stallion.

“High God Mo Yuan, please I have a request,” she added, her voice now betraying her nervousness, bowing once more to him.

“Please stand at ease,” he gestured to her. “Yes?”

She stood straight, but did not dare look at his face. Her eyes were fixed on the collar of his robe. “I ask you to reject my Father’s proposition.”

“I have already rejected a marriage alliance,” he said mildly.

“Ah,” she blushed again, this time even to the point where her whole face glowed in a deep, crimson red, “of course, he insisted to ask this, but we all knew... No, I meant the second proposition.”

Genuinely surprised, Mo Yuan asked: “You don’t want to be a Kunlun disciple?”

“I would love nothing more. I just… I don’t…," she took a deep breath, “I would like to be chosen for my skills, not because of an alliance agreement between two tribes,” she blurted out.

He always looked for strength in people. For character. For people that had the ability to grow. For people who would excel. For people with determination. He didn’t answer directly, but gestured to the field: “Do you fight as well as you ride?”

Looking faintly confused, she answered: “Almost, High God. I am the best rider in the Kingdom, but in Swordplay, I am second to my first brother. And only because he often doesn’t stick to the rules and is much heavier than I am.”

Mo Yuan suppressed a smile. “Have you been taught how to command an army?”

“Yes,” the Horse Princess said and very briefly looked into his eyes, “me and my brothers are the commanders of our troops.”

The decision was reached much more easily than he had thought it would. “Then I want you to stay near me as adjutant during the war. I will start to teach you as soon as your forces join ours. Come to Kunlun to find me.”

Tian Gu’s mesmerizing blue eyes grew round like the moon and she fell to her knees, overcome with joy. “I will not disappoint you, Shifu. I hope the war starts tomorrow!” she shouted, kowtowing in reference.

That, Mo Yuan thought with a sudden dampening of his spirits, was only something an unbled soldier would say. Someone who had never seen or smelled a real battlefield, someone who had never heard the cries of agony and desperation of the wounded, had never felt the crushing sadness one felt over the death of one’s friends and allies.

“And I hope we will all survive,” he said softly to her bowed back and turned away, to rejoin his party.

Chapter 73