Fanfiction: Ink in Water - Chapter 5 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 5 - The water flows on with no regard for the flower’s feelings

written by Bunny
consulting by LigayCroft and Le
editing by Le and Kakashi

“Two chicken feet and handful of peanuts," Bai Qian muttered to herself, cataloging the amount of food she had consumed over the last 24 hours. Looking at the way things were going, forget about fighting the Shen demon, she was definitely going to starve to death.

Bai Qian held onto her grumbling stomach and dragged her feet along. Her eyes couldn’t help but stare resentfully at the backs of the two people who were walking ahead of her. With their level of cultivation, Moyuan and Xiao Yu could forgo eating for centuries if needed, but this was not the case for younger immortals. For someone who had never had to miss a meal in her life, Bai Qian was really not used to this.

Shifu, aren’t you forgetting something?!

After that little fiasco in the tea shack earlier, involving a band of horses and a certain runaway princess, Xiao Yu had suggested paying the Serpent family a visit. And, since Moyuan had not objected, they were now heading toward Fenyi Palace.

Palace food… The only thing a certain malnourished disciple could think about right now.

When they passed through the city gates, the scenery took a sharp turn from desert wasteland to booming metropolis. Bodies were packed like sardines as they weaved through the narrow streets filled with stalls and vendors on either side. It was a lively scene that reminded Bai Qian of her visits to the mortal realm. Even the smells were the same. Her nose was immediately drawn to the nearby mantou [1] cart.

“Fresh mantous! Hot off the steamer!” hollered a lady behind the cart. When she saw the hungry face approaching, she beamed a smile.

The tray in her hand contained rows upon rows of fluffy steamed buns, which were stuffed full of glistening pork belly that oozed out from the side. Bai Qian swallowed a mouthful of drool and immediately started digging around in her chest pocket for some change.

“Shifu—” She turned to call for him but both he and Xiao Yu were out of sight. Weren’t they just here a minute ago?

The street was full of unfamiliar faces and so dense that it was almost impossible to push through. After wading hopelessly through the mass of people for half an incense stick’s length of time, it was clear that Bai Qian had lost them. Then, panting from heat and struggling to catch her breath, she squatted down off to one side of the road. Her two little fists pounded the sides of her head in frustration. She knew she could be one-track minded when it came to food, but why did she have to be this stupid? Now she was hungry and lost…

So hungry...

In the midst of her sulking, suddenly a hand presented itself in front of her face.

In it, was a steaming hot mantou wrapped in oil-paper. She stared wide-eyed at it before tracing the hand to its owner. Moyuan was leaning down, looking at her with the same cold expression as always. Her lower lip quivered with joy.


In her current state of self-pity and hunger, the sight of her master had caused whatever trace of self-control Bai Qian had to fly out the window. Her two arms reached up for him and her head burrowed straight into his chest.

She was instantly put in a daze. How could a man whose face had a permanent layer of frost on it, have a chest this warm? And it smelled so good, she couldn’t help but press in deeper. A long moment had passed by the time Bai Qian was the slightest bit aware of her current position. Her head snapped up to look at him. Those normally indifferent eyes were showing a hint of one particular emotion right now—shock.

After forcing a feeble grin, Bai Qian retrieved her arms and looked timidly down at her feet.

You just tried to hug the God of War… Are you an idiot?

She continued to avoid his eyes as she cringed. The last thing Bai Qian expected to feel was a hand that had reached up to stroke the top of her head. “Here, you must be hungry. Shifu forgot that you are still not able to take in spiritual energy from the environment… That’s my fault.”

The tenderness in his voice and his gentle touch had her a bit shaken up, but her attention soon moved to the mantou in his hand and she gleefully accepted it. Within one quick bite, half of it was in her mouth; her cheeks puffed up as she continued to devour and chew. Bai Qian, unaware of how she must have appeared, did not understand why her master’s lips had suddenly curved up and was now trembling ever so slightly, as he watched her eat.

“Shifu, where’s Xiao Yu?”

He looked around for a moment. “I’m not sure.”

While the little person inside Bai Qian was currently throwing confetti at the prospect of losing Green Eyes, they had started walking out onto the street. Amongst the crowd, Moyuan’s figure was slowly being separated from hers. Not willing to get lost again, she pushed through the few people that stood between them and grabbed for a handful of his sleeve. Caught off guard, he stared down at her grip, then swiftly moved his hand to secure ahold of her wrist instead.

“Stay close,” he said, pulling her next to him.

No matter how she thought about it afterwards, Bai Qian could not figure out why, at that point, her heart had nearly jumped out of her chest.


Fenyi Palace seemed to have been built to inspire slack-jaws. The entire thing was wrapped in so much gold, it outshone the sun. The enormous dome roofs that topped every tower were shaped in such a way that when Bai Qian looked at them, all she could think about were... steamed buns…

Moyuan had yet to let go of her hand as they made their way to the gate.

“Hold it right there. Who are you?” asked one of the guards that stood in front.

“Moyuan of Kunlun Mountain. This is my disciple.”

The two guards looked at each other, then responded, “Never heard of you.”

Have these two mouth-breathers been living under a rock?!

Bai Qian scoffed loudy. She was prepared to give them a piece of her mind, when they both fainted onto the ground.

“You’re always so quick to resort to violence, Furball. Why don’t you just learn to put people to sleep instead?” rang a familiar voice from behind.

“It’s you…” she grimaced.

Xiao Yu let out a deafening gasp as he got close. “What…?! What are you doing Yuan-Yuan?! You’re not allowed to hold anyone else’s hand!”

Moving as though he was about to chop a piece of wood, Xiao Yu threw his hand down and separated theirs. Bai Qian let out a yelp of pain before turning around and seizing his neck.

“Wild fox! Down! Get down!”

A very exhausted God of War had already pushed open the gate and was walking halfway through the front courtyard by the time the two fighting hens had let go of each other.

It seemed that this palace was not only wrapped in gold, it was made out of it, inside and out. Bai Qian let her eyes wander around as she caught up with Moyuan. Even the trees and bushes in the courtyard sprouted leaves made of gold. When Bai Qian thought back to the state of the village that stood outside of the city, she couldn’t help but feel a bit outraged. One of these gold leaves could feed a family of five for a month! The injustice was too blatant. Just how greedy was this kingdom’s sovereign?

As soon as they reached the entrance to the main hall, they were stopped by another group of guards. Bai Qian’s eyes went past them and toward the man who was sitting at the far end of the room. He was propped high up on an elaborate gold throne with many serpent carvings on it. This must be the Serpent King.

He was simply too eye-catching. Bai Qian had not thought it possible for anyone to rival Tianjun in garish bad taste, but here was a man, not only draped in an insane amount of gold brocade but also carrying a mountain of rubies on top of his head. He had not noticed the three people who stood just outside the entrance and proceeded to take a sip from his bejeweled teacup. When his two beady eyes looked up, his thin mustache that consisted of about five hairs altogether, started to tremble and he nearly spat out his mouthful of tea.

“Ah… Is that High God Moyuan I see?” The king squinted his eyes, then quickly got up and made his way down the long flight of stairs. “Let him in! Let him past! Make way!”

The guards immediately created a path. As the King rushed toward Moyuan, his hands came together and he bowed his head down in a grand gesture. “This humble one greets the God of War. We have been expecting you!”

Bai Qian was a little taken aback by the ceremonious display. The truth was, she often forgot how lofty her master’s position was in the eyes of other immortals. Looking at this king whose back was bent over like an arched bow before her, Bai Qian realized that true power was not something that could be judged by the number of accessories one was adorned with.

“Shé Yong, no need for formalities,” Moyuan said.

The bent head soon lifted, bearing the smile of a sunflower that smelled like a chrysanthemum [2]. It instantly left a bad taste in Bai Qian’s mouth.

“Servants! Prepare tea and seat our guests!” he bellowed out.

As a few attendants ushered them to their seats located at one side of the hall, Bai Qian suddenly felt a chill creep up her back.

Turning around to look, she saw that a certain individual was seated on the other side of the aisle staring raptly at her. He had a pair of glowing eyes, flushed cheeks, and a face that was mixing a thousand expressions into one. As soon as their gaze met, he instantly looked down, then carefully peeked up at her.

What the heck is this horse doing here?!

Ma Zhiwen was seated with his two servants by his side, Bushy Eyebrows and Crooked Teeth, who were both suddenly as docile as a pair of kittens as they eyed Moyuan from afar. When Bai Qian saw them look over at her, she puffed up her chest and made a threatening gesture with her fist.

At this time, the set of golden doors at the side of the room had swung open with force, and from behind them, a captivating beauty came storming out.

“Father! I will not marry the Horse Clan Prince! I don’t care what you say!” She shouted up at the King, without sparing a glance around the room. Her long black hair swung about like an unintentional dance.

“Nonsense! This is not the time to talk about that!” The King’s face darkened. “High God Moyuan is here…”

“Moyuan…?” The Princess whipped her head around and looked directly at the person whose name was just spoken, her eyes growing misty all of a sudden.

Bai Qian couldn’t help but stare wide-eyed. This woman was too stunning for words, it was hard to look away from that perfect face. She had almond eyes that were slightly upturned and lips like ripened cherries, the combination gave off an overwhelmingly sensual aura. Not to mention that figure. It made every other female in the room look like a bean pole in comparison.

As she made her way over to them, her eyes were fixed on Moyuan.

Bai Qian looked over at her master, who was currently sitting next to her, staring into his tea cup. Shifu, let’s not waste a good view here!

“Moyuan…” said the Princess as she dipped down in a graceful bow. “Ying Yue saw you earlier, but could not greet you properly. Please accept my apology.”

“Impudent!” the King shouted. “That’s not how you address a High God!”

“It’s fine.” Moyuan took a sip of his tea and looked up. “Ying Yue and I grew up together; she is like a sister to me. There’s no need to add titles.”

Ying Yue who was standing in front of Moyuan, looked like a spring flower that had suddenly withered after hearing these words.

Bai Qian recalled the things she had heard from Bushy Eyebrows and Crooked Teeth back at the tea shack. If what they had said was true, then this Princess was her master’s childhood sweetheart… Looking at them side by side now, for some reason, Bai Qian’s heart began to bubble with a strange and conflicting feeling… Shifu… this disciple has misjudged you… I really didn’t think you could nab such a beauty… What else have you been keeping from me?

When she took notice of Bai Qian, Ying Yue made her way over.

“Little brother... Earlier, you were brave and spoke up for me, I must thank you.” She flashed a brilliant smile. Bai Qian was so mesmerized, she could only nod. Shifu… I approve...

“Yue’er! Are you going to greet Yuan-Yuan and Furball and forget about your Xiao Yu gēge [3]?”

“Hmph!” Princess Ying Yue rolled her eyes and turned to make her way up the flight of stairs at the front of the room.

She sat down in a chair next to her father. The King whispered a few things in her ear before aiming a hand at Ma Zhiwen. “Ying Yue, this is Ma Delan’s son, Ma Zhiwen. He is here, along with High God Moyuan, to help us exterminate the Shen demon.”

As the King went on to inform the rest of his audience about the whereabouts of the Shen Demon, Bai Qian could only listen with one ear as she found herself too distracted by the growing tension in the room.

The two people who had just been introduced to each other were now behaving rather strangely. Princess Ying Yue’s eyes were riveted on Moyuan. Whereas Ma Zhiwen’s were fixated on something else in the room. Bai Qian was at a loss as to why this horse was, once again, staring straight at her with the same complicated expression.

Also, there seemed to have been a sudden drop in temperature, as a cool breeze came drifting over from her right side. Bai Qian turned to look. Moyuan, whose expression never did possess any warmth in the first place, was now emitting ice vapor as he stared at Ma Zhiwen.

Bai Qian, with what she believed to be her astute intuition, quickly came to the conclusion that Moyuan was probably having unkind thoughts toward the man who had come here to court his childhood sweetheart. That must mean that he does have feelings for the Princess.

In the end, it all made perfect sense.

Shifu is stuck in a love triangle.

That night, Fenyi Palace housed six new guests.

Bai Qian settled in her chamber and tried to get some sleep. She laid her head down on a gold encrusted pillow, on top of a gold encrusted bed, and stared up at the gold encrusted ceiling, but could not stop her mind from running about. It kept circling around the new things she had learned today.

Princess Ying Yue is in love with Shifu… Shifu is also in love with the Princess… They must have been separated by unforeseen circumstances… and now that they are reunited, this Horse prince wants to swoop in and steal the Princess away so he can form a political alliance…

That son-of-a-turtle!
After cursing Ma Zhiwen a few times in her head for her master, Bai Qian was beginning to feel sleepy when all of a sudden, her bladder demanded urgent attention.

Poking her head out of her chamber door, Bai Qian took a quick peek around. The halls were gleaming in silence without a soul in sight. It was near the Rat hour (23:00-01:00), so even the servants were likely to have already retired for the night.

It shouldn’t be that difficult to locate an outhouse from here…

Bai Qian started down one end of the hall. Then, looped back down to the other end. Why was there only gold and granite and nothing else? She felt like she had been going in circles and had trekked through the entire palace, yet there was no sign of an outhouse.

Now, if she had just worked a little harder all these years and reached her godly ascension sooner, she would not have any need to excrete her bodily fluids at all, but that wasn’t the case, so this was a problem. At this rate, finding her way back to her own chamber would be a challenge. The next thing Bai Qian saw that looked remotely hopeful was a pathway out to the courtyard. Worst comes to worst, I’ll just hide behind a bush. So, she wandered in.

The moon was round in the sky tonight, casting a soft, warm glow and creating a romantic atmosphere, but all Bai Qian could think about was whether or not it would be alright for her to water the plants for her host. Because there was still some dignity intact, she hesitated long enough to hear a string of sighs come from the vicinity.

Bai Qian looked around but didn’t see anyone, until she decided to check behind a nearby rock wall.

“Ma Zhiwen?!”

He was sitting with a wine bottle in his hand and a far-off look on his face. When he glanced up and saw her, his eyebrows almost flew up to his hairline.

“L-Little fellow! It’s you…” His eyes had a strange glimmer to them.

“What are you doing here?” Bai Qian interrogated, although she had already guessed at his reasons, judging by the extent of this scene.

This schmuck must have realized that he couldn’t compete with the God of War and was about to lose out on the Princess. Therefore, he had to seek refuge with wine and moonlight. Bai Qian had read enough mortal plays to know that this was a classic method of coping for the pitiful second male lead. She would have felt pity for him, except that she was obviously already in support of her master.

“I—I—I…” He was babbling and casting shy glances at her. It was making all her arm hairs stand on end.

“You what?”

“I know this may be wrong… but I just can’t stop thinking about you!”

Is this blockhead practicing his lines for the Princess?
“This… This is really the first time for me… I-I know that you’re male, and I’m male… but since the moment I laid eyes on you, I haven’t been able to think straight!”

“Eh?” What kind of godly development was this?

He stood up abruptly, his large frame towering over her. Bai Qian felt that this was her cue to run away, but he spared no time and took both her hands in his.

“Listen to me, I know that this is all very strange… but if you accept… I, Ma Zhiwen, will make this work.” He patted his chest, “I have strength and power. I can protect you!”

Why does it feel like I’m being proposed to by a caveman?

“I know you won’t be able to bear any children in the future, but that’s fine, we can always adopt! There are many orphaned horses in the plains!”

“………” You shouldn’t jinx people like that!!!

Bai Qian tried to twist her hands out of his grip, but those enormous hands would not budge.

“Look here, brother Horse… Uh… Um… I… I am already in love with somebody else! So please let me go!”

“In love with somebody else?!”

His hands fell limp. For a second, Bai Qian felt a tinge of remorse. This giant man now suddenly resembled a small puppy that had just been abandoned by the side of the road.

“Who?” His eyes turned dark, “Tell me who! I won’t accept it otherwise.”

“Ehhh?” She had not thought this far. “Uh… It’s… the man I was with earlier! The one in white, with the long gray hair... his name is Xiao Yu!”

“What?! That girly looking—”

Clink. Clink. Clink.

Bai Qian froze. Her hand flew over Ma Zhiwen’s mouth.

It sounded like footsteps on granite just now.

She made a face to Ma Zhiwen before carefully removing her hand. He seemed to get the message and stayed quiet. The two of them crouched down and crept their eyes out from behind the rock wall to look.

What was Princess Ying Yue doing here?

She had stepped out into the middle of the courtyard and looked around. In the faint light of the moon, her skin glowed like a rare jade. Those clear eyes became even more bewitching. After letting out a few heavy sighs, a pained expression appeared on her face. She must be thinking about Moyuan. To be so close… and yet so far.

Bai Qian realized that all the mortal plays she had read were really paying off, because how else could she be so perceptive of other people’s emotions?

The back gardens have always been a prime place for lovers to meet up at night. If only her master could appear now.

A moment later, another set of ‘clinks’ came through.

Bai Qian’s jaw almost fell off her face.

Moyuan’s figure slowly approached. He stopped at the top of the steps leading into the courtyard and cleared his throat. The Princess turned around.

“Moyuan… You came. I was afraid you wouldn’t.”

He started to descend the steps. “It’s late. Was there something important you wanted to discuss?”

“I… I just haven’t had the chance to see you in so long…” Her eyes were taking on a wet glow.

Shifu, put your arm around her or something! We can’t let this delicate flower shed tears!

“You look well, just the same as I remember you.” Ying Yue said, taking a few steps towards him. “Do you know... that you’re always on my mind?”

Moyuan was silent, his face seemed to have been covered by yet another layer of ice.

Ying Yue turned away and looked up at the sky. “It’s a full moon tonight. Do you remember the first night we met?”

The person being spoken to, as well as the two people hidden behind the rock, could not help but also gaze up at the moon.

“It was a full moon that night as well... When you found me at the base of Mount Qinyao and fought off the demonic Serpent that I had thoughtlessly provoked. How could I have known that it was the son of Father Immortal who had saved me?” She let out a weak laugh. “Although, I should have known. You were just a young immortal, yet had already possessed that much power.”

Shifu is so cool...

“So, what did I do when I found out? I begged my father to let me enroll in Father Immortal’s school, so I could see you. Despite being a low rank Serpent King’s daughter, I was accepted. The other young immortals did not find me fitting to be their peer, but every time anyone had tried to say or do anything unjust toward me, you were always there… right beside me.”

“Ying Yue—”

“Oh! Do you remember the night you promised me that you would always be by my side? The moon was full then too, I remember every detail.”

There was a long pause of silence. Bai Qian was about to bite all of her fingernails off.

“The things I’ve said on a whim when we were young, I hope you don’t take them too seriously.” Moyuan said.

On a whim?!

“On a whim?!” Ying Yue spun around, tears dropping like pearls on her cheeks. “I’ve held onto your words as though they were life itself!”

Shifu… You’re heartless… Bai Qian had to dip her head low and give this poor Princess a moment of silence before making a mental note to herself. Whatever happens in the future, make sure not to fall in love with a man like Shifu.

“Moyuan, why do you insist on pushing me away?” Ying Yue reached for Moyuan’s hand and pulled it toward her chest. “I know that I wronged you back then, I was senseless, I should have never said the things I said concerning Mother Deity...”

His hand abruptly pulled away. Bai Qian had never seen such a look in her master’s eyes. It made her blood run cold.

“This isn’t about that, is it? This is about her.” Ying Yue’s voice broke, her fountain of tears were flowing endlessly. “She’s already been dead for 100,000 years! How can you still be longing for someone whose bones have long cooled?”

Heh? What is this? Is this the part about the Demon Ancestor?

Lifting her hand to scratch her head in confusion, Bai Qian felt a few crumbs stuck in her hair. Her ears also picked up on a peculiar noise. Why did it sound like somebody was having a meal above her head?

Bai Qian looked up. Xiao Yu was hunched directly over her, nibbling away on a pastry, and intently watching the same scene in the courtyard.

She couldn’t stop her hand from reflexively punching him in the gut. A grave mistake.

“OW!” Xiao Yu shouted.

Ma Zhiwen looked over and upon seeing that his love rival had arrived and was hovering over the man he loved, decided to risk it all.

“HEY! Pretty boy!” One enormous hand grabbed Xiao Yu by the collar, while the other prepared to swing toward Xiao Yu’s face.

Xiao Yu sidestepped just in time, and purposely placed his foot in front of Ma Zhiwen’s.

As Bai Qian stood watching the pair in the courtyard make their way over upon hearing the commotion, she was completely unaware that there was a mountainous body toppling toward her.

One loud thud, a pile of dust, and a gasp later, Bai Qian opened her eyes.

She was flat on her back. Every bone in her body felt like it had been crushed and for some reason, there was something soft pressed onto her lips. And a pair of eyeballs that were really close to her face… Bai Qian wanted to scream, but again, she couldn’t, because that something soft was still stuck to her lips!

Before she could figure out what to do, a blinding light was released from above and suddenly the body on top of her went flying to the other end of the courtyard. It smashed right through the stone wall and kept going until it had smashed through several more stone walls.

There seemed to be a familiar chill hovering overhead.

Bai Qian didn’t have the heart to look at anyone or anything, she could only mouth out a few words, “…First kiss… My first kiss…”

Suddenly, a hand reached for her wrist and before she knew it, she was being pulled up onto her feet and led away. He had done the same thing earlier in the day, but at the time, his fingers around her wrist felt like a feather compared to this.

Before they exited, Bai Qian turned her head to look at the people left behind in the courtyard. Princess Ying Yue was glaring at her. The resentment in her eyes so strong that Bai Qian had to wonder if she had killed her entire family or something.

Wait… Shifu, are you sure you’ve grabbed the right wrist?

Chapter 6


End Notes:

1] Mantou - A type of Chinese steamed bun.

2] A smile like a sunflower, which smelled like chrysanthemum - A saying which suggests that a certain smile in question has hidden intentions.

3] Gēge - Term of endearment for older brother figures.

*Note on chapter title - “The water flows on with no regard for the flower’s feelings” is a translation of the Chinese proverb: Luò Huā Yŏu Yì Liú Shuĭ Wú Qíng - 落花有意,流水无情, which signifies unrequited love.