Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 10 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 10

written by kakashi
consulting/editing by LigayaCroft and Panda

Five hundred. Five hundred one… five hundred two… five hundred three…

With a groan, Shao Wan straightened her back and then winced when her spine cracked loudly, not once, but twice, each bang as loud as thunder in her ears.

She was in another lousy, achy body, of course. Immortal bodies should be much better than mortal ones, but Fate had not had any difficulty finding one for her that was faulty.

Heaving a deep sigh, she looked down at her tiny, flat frame in the gauzy pink dress for the umpteenth time. No, she had not yet gotten used to this. And no, she would never get used to it. She would get her own body back even if it took her 400,000 years or more.

It had dawned on her in the meantime that maybe, this wasn’t a dream after all. She had always been a realist, in the sense that she had taken situations for what they were and had tried to act in ways that turned whatever she had been given into the best possible outcome. So, the realization that her trials were not over was... welcome, in a way, even when the worst kind of nightmare possible in this situation was realizing it wasn’t a nightmare at all, but reality. A reality that smelled of jasmine soap.

When the truth had hit her, she had found herself with both her tiny, wrinkled hands deep in warm, soapy water. Inside the water were white undergarments that she was supposed to gently swirl, then scrub by rubbing the fabric against itself and against her wrists, and then scrubbing again if necessary. After that, she had to allow the clothes to soak. Given Celestial cleanliness, the tub had to be drained three times after each scrub and soak, and refilled with clean, soapy water. Undergarments had to soak for one incense stick at least. After that, they had to be thoroughly rinsed until no bubbles remained and hung up on white shimmering rope - she had to use a stool to reach it - to dry in the gentle breeze that blowed up here in the Celestial Heavens.

Now, Shao Wan knew she did not know how to wash undergarments in such detail. So, she had had to conclude that the head maid who had told her those details and watched her do it as instructed with extreme displeasure was real. That meant that the maid quarters had to be real. The strangely tasteless, yet perfectly shaped cookies they got as food: real. All the other pink-dressed, sour-faced maids: real. The white-clad Celestial with the golden stick that had been assigned to watch her closely as soon as she stepped outside the maid quarters: real. The fluffy pink clouds - could there even be so many pink hues! - all around them: real. The Celestial powers she reacted to as if they were her own: real.

And worst of all: this faulty body… real. She was finally an immortal again, yes, but she was not at all where or who she wanted to be. Maybe even worse: it seemed like she could not talk about who she had been without being punished with a painful muteness that lasted several hours.

“Do you think I was born to wash clothes?” she had wailed after her realization and had kicked the tub hard. The wood had just shivered slightly, as if to mock her. So she had kicked it again and again, using her meager powers for emphasis - all in vain, until she finally grabbed it and toppled it over, watching the soapy water swoosh all over the white marble with great satisfaction.

Her stick-Celestial had stood there, wide-eyed, working his mouth in silence like an outraged carp. She had watched with fascination how his face had turned a deep shade of red, a color that moved up from the region of his neck all the way up to his hairline. Yet, he had not screamed, even when the color had finally filled his whole countenance. No, Celestials did not scream. They were as gentle as the spring wind, moving gracefully as if they were floating on little clouds that were tied to their feet, always keeping their voices down so as not to disturb the Celestial harmony. Celestial powers were pleasant too, not at all like Demonic powers who always had a bite and an edge to them, reminding the wielder that magic took effort and that a misstep could have dire consequences.

The Stick-Celestial had not screamed, but he had punished her nonetheless. To wash the stairs of some great Hall with some great name that was of no consequence. There were so many great, extremely beautiful halls here in the Heavens, all with staircases so long you could barely see to the top. “Wash them until they shine like the sun and you can see your reflection in them!” he had ordered her with a deep scowl.

It was a great deception, she knew this now. Celestials were not weak just because they liked to act gentle. In fact, of all the Tribes, they probably were the most iron-willed, unyielding, and certainly the cruelest when it came to how they treated themselves and in extension, others.

She did not want to wash stairs. And she definitely did not want to see her current mockery of a face in them. But she had to think about how to get out of here and to Mount Kunlun, despite Donghua’s orders not to let anyone in or out without thorough checks, and that meant playing along with this charade until the opportunity arose to flee.

Shao Wan had tried to talk to the other maids to understand a bit more about how the Heavens worked, but they shunned her, most likely because she meant trouble and they did not want any. The head maid was out of the question, she had a thin, cruel mouth and turned her face away as soon as Shao Wan appeared near her. That left her with… the Stick-Celestial.

He was a young man with an expression of quiet suffering on his face. Apart from that, nothing about him was particularly remarkable. His hair was black, his eyes were dark, his face was round, his nose like any other, and his brow just a little bit too tense, making him look constantly worried. What had he done, Shao Wan wondered, to earn him his current position? She looked over at him. He was sitting on the stairs, his face buried in his hands.

“Celestial?” she asked with her thin, high voice, perfectly representing her faulty body.

He looked up, immediately wary.

“Celestial, may I take a break?” she inquired politely and batted her eyelids. “My back hurts a lot and so does my arms and knees.”

He scowled, then looked around. There was nothing but a great emptiness around them. Plus, she was almost done. Only about fifty steps remained, though they were the bottom ones and thus the widest. “You may take a break,” he said and put his head back into his hands.

Shao Wan sat down on the same step like him and looked up into the everbright skies above them. This was where Mo Yuan had grown up. A place of gentle colors and harsh rules. Beautiful on the outside, relentless on the inside. It was so like him, and it made her miss him very much.

“Do you know…,” she addressed the stick-Celestial, “which palace High God Mo Yuan grew up in?”

The stick-Celestial looked up again, turning to her with a frown. “First,” he answered, “you address me by my proper title. I am a Star Lord and my name is Yin Guang. Second, you stop giving me such a headache. Then, I might talk to you.”

A Star Lord? Definitely a severe punishment then to have him look after a misbehaving maid.

“Star Lord Yin Guang,” Shao Wan said, “I meant no disrespect. I cannot talk about my problems, but believe me, they are huge. It is desperation that makes me act the way I do. I lost something very dear to me and need to recover it as soon as I can.”

She never quite knew when that curse that was on her would hit her throat and made it unable to speak, so she always spoke haltingly, fumbling her way from word to word carefully.

She saw she had the attention of the Star Lord. So him, too, had lost something dear to him? “They think you’re a spy,” he said. “I need to watch you carefully.”

Shao Wan laughed. It sounded like one of those tiny frogs with the ridiculous voices when they were angry and she hated it. Donghua would have to pay a high price for this.

“What is it you have lost, Star Lord Yin Guang? Maybe we can help each other?”

He continued scowling, but an expression of great longing entered his eyes. It seemed his pain was so great he would talk even to her about it. “I let someone fall in love with me,” he whispered. “I was selfish, because I wanted to love him back. It is forbidden for newly ascended immortals to fall in love.”

Of course, Celestials had a million rules, most of which made no sense at all. But she knew from school that many could be easily circumvented with a bit of wit… if one was ready to risk angering people in power and the Universe.

“What if you are already in love when you ascend?” she asked him.

“That’s impossible,” he said, “how would a mortal fall in love with an immortal?”

“Don’t immortals always go and have fun in the mortal realm all the time because they’re so often bored?” she asked back. “I recall many such stories, of immortals falling in love with mortals, with all the calamity that inevitably follows…”

The Star Lord looked thoughtful. “I suppose it is possible.”

“Your person,” she asked him, “was he punished to go back to the mortal realm?”

The Star Lord nodded, looking chagrined.

“Then you go down and make him fall in love with you as a mortal and as soon as he ascends again, you two can continue your relationship in the immortal realms because nobody is breaking any laws if there is no falling in love up here but only being in love.”

He looked doubtful, but was thinking.

“Maybe something to try…,” he finally whispered. “In any case, it would be better than to sit up here doing nothing while feeling remorse. Then I shall hope they soon open the gates again so that I can leave.”

Shao Wan nodded. From the corner of her eye, she saw something white flutter, yet paid it no heed.

“Will you help me too? Can I meet the Crown Princess?”

The Star Lord gasped. “Are you insane?” he hissed. “You were not even allowed to go to the celebratory banquet in the Moonlight Garden on the 32nd level of Heaven on Ascendance Day and you think you would be allowed to meet the royal family?”

Shao Wan sighed. Fine, she would just need to get a map of this place and then, she would make sure to go find Bai Qian herself.

“Could you please…”, she began to say when suddenly, the stairs all around them filled up with immortals, dressed in white courtier clothes, walking towards the hall at the top. Shao Wan gasped. Her stairs! They were walking up her freshly cleaned stairs! She jumped up. Footprints! She could see footprints! Wherever these men had come from, most seemed to have trod in wet dirt before coming here.

“By Pangu’s hairy balls,” she cursed, “stop! Do not walk there!”

The Star Lord tried to pull her down again. “Keep down,” he hissed, “keep down! It’s a Heavenly Assembly, do not offend anyone or we will be most severely punished!”

Fine. Fine! Still cursing fouly, she sat down and gritted her teeth. It was to keep herself from crying, because she felt a strong desire to bawl her eyes out. All this work! The white-clad, long-bearded immortals glided by, chattering amongst each other, not even noticing them. They left behind a horrible mess.

Yin Guang looked at her. At least, he had the decency to look apologetic when he ordered her to start from the top.


“She bit you?” the Heavenly Lord asked incredulously. He was wearing the strangest crown Shao Wan had ever seen on anybody, it was rather distracting.

“In my ankle!” the one who was a Prince of the Heavens exclaimed, sounding both outraged and suffering. “We must severely punish her!”

Donghua Dijun watched her from the side with slitted eyes. You better watch out, Shao Wan thought and threw him a scathing look, how dare you not recognize me! Star Lord Si Ming just looked extremely nervous. Star Lord Yin Guang next to her looked ready to die.

All that fuss just because she had lost her temper and bitten the most annoying ankle that had come down the stairs from the hall, dirtying them again. The most annoying ankle by pure chance belonged to the 1st Prince of the Heavens, a very dull man with the name of Yang Cuo. Apparently he was the keeper of the law, who had not been deemed fit to rule, because he had been passed over by his father for next Heavenly Lord.

No wonder he was so unpleasant. When it had happened to Mo Yuan… she didn’t remember all the details, but she suddenly realized she had consoled him. It was interesting how being up here in the Heavens made her remember things about the days at school that had apparently dropped from her memory, for reasons she didn't quite understand. Like fragments of a lost life… like dreams.

“Great Tianjun, I am here,” said a slightly breathless voice at the entrance of the Dragon Hall. Shao Wan turned and for a moment, her heart wanted to stop. But it was only the Twin, dressed in black… yet, this face was enough to drive tears of longing into her eyes.

“Ye Hua,” said the Heavenly Lord, “you didn’t need to come. It was only an unruly maid.”

“I heard my father was injured…?”

Father? Ah, yes! Mo Yuan’s twin had been born to different parents. This business with the saved spirit in form of a Lotus that had cultivated at Kunlun for millennia had been the inspiration for her own deeds... even if she did not possess Father Immortal’s level of cultivation and had had to use forbidden magic. Yet, seeing the man who had once been a Lotus in the flesh gave her renewed hope, making her realize how anxious she had been all this time: Her babies would be fine too. She smiled… and then met Donghua Dijun’s very suspicious eyes. “Idiot,” she whispered and grinned when he frowned.

“A maid who is biting ankles? How extraordinary,” said another voice. A face appeared in her field of vision. This man had sharp eyes, quite contrary to the casual way he spoke.

“Careful, brother!” The first prince warned. Shao Wan smiled again. It looked like she had managed to gather almost the entire royal family! All of a sudden, she really liked her mouth for biting the right kind of ankle, even though the mouth belonged in a faulty face and to a faulty body.

“She is a tiny, adorable woman,” the new prince said, “or actually, hardly a woman. A girl. Why are we gathered here exactly?”

“Girl or woman, punishment will have to be given,” said the man she had bitten sourly. “Law is the law, third brother.”

“Yes, yes, the law, the law,” said the Third Brother dutifully and winked at Shao Wan. “What law are we speaking of?”

“Harm against a member of the royal family is punishable by death,” said the one she had bitten.


“I only bit him a little,” she said.

“Presumptuous!” the first prince roared.

“Donghua Dijun,” the Heavenly Lord said with a deep sigh, “you say this is an unscheduled immortal that you assigned to maid duty under the care of a Star Lord? You suspected she might be a spy for our enemies?”

“A spy? You cannot be serious,” said the Third Brother and threw the Crown Prince, who knew how to keep his face from showing anything just like his brother, an amused look. A natural ally? Shao Wan rejoiced. These Celestials were crazy if they thought a bit of ankle biting warranted a death sentence.

“Lian Song, I am certainly more serious than you usually are,” Donghua replied. “But like you, I fail to see anybody sending someone as unsubtle to be a spy. Star Lord!”

"Y--yes,” quivered Yin Guang next to Shao Wan.

“What have you observed?”

“I… I…,” the Star Lord stammered. “She is lazier than anyone I have ever seen, has a foul temper and knows to curse in ways that I find very shocking.”

“She could have been the daughter of a bandit,” Lian Song suggested and took a step closer to Shao Wan, looking at her with much interest, his head tilted to the side.

“And…?” Donghua prompted, sounding ever so slightly annoyed.

“And… nothing…,” the Star Lord said with a tiny voice, “she… she asked about High God Mo Yuan!”

Everyone fell quiet.

“I only wanted to know where he grew up,” Shao Wan said defensively. “Is that a crime too?”

“Presumptuous!” the one she had bitten squealed. She really should have bitten him harder.

“And she said she wanted to meet the Crown Princess!” the Star Lord next to her sighed, sounding like a drowning man who hoped the tiny piece of wood he saw floating in the ocean in front of him would carry his weight.

“My wife?” said the Celestial Twin and stepped closer to. “What does she know of my brother and my wife?”

“I once g…,” the pain in her throat made her sob loudly. I gave her what is dearest to me and him! she wanted to shout, but could only gargle. Tears streamed down her face. Donghua Dijun just shook his head and hit a hand against his forehead. The rest of the men around her looked shocked.

“Sometimes mute, sometimes cursing, sometimes speaking with the sweetest of voices,” Star Lord Si Ming observed.

“She might be under a curse,” the one named Lian Song said. She felt like jumping into his arms and clinging to him until all the others went away. She nodded frantically, brushing her tears away.

“Very curious,” Donghua said.

“I volunteer to take her into my household,” Lian Song said, “to investigate this further.”

His elder brother gasped. “She needs to be punished for harming me!”

“Then punish her by all means,” said Lian Song, “what about locking her away for a bit? That ought to teach her a lesson.”

“Into the Evil Pagoda!” Yang Cuo eagerly suggested.

Oh! She had heard of that place. Mo Yuan had mentioned it before. Would it help with her cultivation? She nodded eagerly too. If she ever wanted to get out of here, she needed to boost her cultivation as quickly as possible. Oh… but what if Celestial cultivation could not be boosted by fighting evil forces? Would she have to take up meditation practice again? Or… maybe… that method with the Thousand Men sounded much more promising, would it not help with cultivation in general? But would she be able to entice 1000 men up here, looking the way she looked? Highly doubtful. Plus, she had an inkling Mo Yuan might not approve.

Lian Song and Donghua snorted. “Look at how frail and powerless she is,” said her oldest friend, “she’d die within seconds. No…”

“... why not lock her up in Yinguang Palace for a week? She can reflect on her wrong doings there. It’s certainly a scary place,” said Lian Song with a shudder. “I wouldn’t want to spend the night there alone.”

“Why would you fulfill her wish to learn of this place?” Yang Cuo bristled.

“What could a tiny maid do in a long abandoned palace?” Lian Song shrugged. “Unless it’s cleaning you fear she might do: the dust must be hip high there. Nobody has entered it for eons.”

“Can we settle on this?” the Heavenly Lord said and looked at his son pleadingly.

“Yes, father,” said Yang Cuo and bowed, “if you wish so, of course.”

“Ye Hua?”

“Of course, Heavenly Lord,” the Twin bowed, “it sounds like apt punishment. And I am certain Third Uncle will be able find out why she cannot speak of certain things.”

“Oh good, is it all settled now,” Donghua Dijun yawned. “You don’t need me here anymore, do you? I wish to return to Qing Qiu.”

“Whipped, entirely whipped, the greatest of Gods become powerless in front of the women who own their hearts,” is what Shao Wan heard the man called Lian Song murmur, before two guards picked her up by her arms and dragged her away… to the palace Mo Yuan had grown up in. How scary could it really be? She thought with a shrug. But then, she saw the barred gates and an ominous feeling crept up her spine. The place looked haunted. All of a sudden, she wasn’t quite sure Lian Song was really as kind as he had first appeared.

Chapter 11