Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 20a (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 20a

written by Panda & kakashi
editing/consulting by LigayaCroft

“Shifu. Excuse me, Shifu? It is time for your treatment,” Tian Gu called out cautiously to the still figure sitting under a sandalwood tree. She was very reluctant to disturb her Shifu when he was meditating, but she thought it was necessary that she did: they were nearing the Green Kingdom and she knew it would be far more difficult to find the peace and quiet she needed to do the procedure properly once they had reached their destination.

He did not react, the only movement was his breast continuing to rise and fall as he breathed in and out deeply. Yet, he must have heard her? Or could he shut off his ears too? She knew from his former disciples on Mount Kunlun that he did not need to eat or drink for a very long time - they had said years! - that was how strong his cultivation was.
Not for the first time, she felt like pinching herself. Studying under the God of War, one of the most famous Gods of the Realms… it could not be real, could it? It had been a fine trick by her father to get her this position… there must be hundreds, thousands that deserved it more!

She moved closer, her heart beating fast with the familiar mixture of fear and excitement she always felt when near him, trying to move as gracefully as she thought a Celestial lady would. Though when she sat down, it wasn’t graceful at all, she misjudged the distance between her behind and the ground and plopped down with a thud.

With a deep inhale, he opened his dark, bottomless eyes and turned his somber face to look at her.

“Shifu,” she bowed, feeling her face heat up, “I am sorry, but allow me to…,” before she could continue, a quick movement to the right startled Tian Gu and she swiveled around, but she saw it was only the frail immortal who had come running to sit down a short distance away, as always wearing a highly displeased expression on his pale face as he watched them.

Tian Gu huffed angrily. He was constantly hovering and glaring at her. What was his problem? At first, she had suspected he might be in love with her and did not like the due attention she paid her Shifu, but that didn’t seem quite right. All the men were paying her an unusual amount of attention these days - except for her Shifu. He only had eyes for the thin Immortal, which puzzled Tian Gu exceedingly. Well, he also had eyes for Yu Dian, but a different sort of eyes. In Yu Dian’s case, the eyes were constantly watching full of open distrust. A part of her liked to see the beautiful Demon Lord squirm, another felt rather sorry for him. The God of War was not an enemy she would wish on anyone, especially not on someone who made her heart race, even if she tried to resist it.

“Shifu…,” she said and scowled.

“Let him be,” Mo Yuan said softly.

Tian Gu pressed her lips together and pointedly turned her back on the annoying witness. Shifu was such a private man, why did he not mind that the nameless Immortal watched? She snorted. Her Shifu raised his eyebrows at her a little and she quickly bowed her head.

He had said they were going in pursuit of a dangerous criminal. Yet, ever since setting out from the Obsidian Palace, they had moved at a slower pace than they could have set. Why? There was only one explanation: It was because of that extremely strange boy.

She knew Zhe Yan had delivered some pills for him and he was to take one - and only one! - each day. Still, he looked quite sickly. He also had not had a good form on the horse from the beginning of the journey and often looked like he was barely hanging on. Tian Gu had tried to help and advise him but he had told her, very rudely, to get lost.

Tian Gu sighed. She wasn’t good with mysteries and was itching to inquire from her Shifu why he tolerated the scrawny thing like he was someone very precious to him. But… she had sworn to herself to be good, so she often bit her tongue when she wanted to blurt out a good advise or a nosy question and had kept quiet so far. Yes, she was proud of herself and knew her father would be too.

“If I may, Shifu,” she said quietly and reached for his hands. They were cold and she wished she could warm them, to give this man the consolation he needed, to warm the Dragon within him who was restless and sad.

Mo Yuan closed his eyes again. She knew, extracting the poison hurt a lot, but he was such a strong person, he never let anyone see his pain… well, not if he could not help it. She remembered that time in the tent very well, almost too well… the dragon energy, her panic, her instinctive actions. Not long ago, she had done it again. He had been about to slip into chaos when she had intervened and held him down. She had commanded the Dragon to cease pouring out energy and he had complied.

They had not spoken about it.

Golden Dragon, she said in her head, how are you? Please hold on. Don’t be sad. She will return soon.

Of course, Golden Dragon did not reply. Had she really heard him back then or had it all just been an illusion?

“Prepare the ink,” her Wuwu had ordered and took out a bowl and some black paste wrapped in paper from her sleeve, “but do not under any circumstance touch it.”

While Tian Gu carefully added small amounts of water until the paste had sufficiently dissolved, the Wuwu put a long pomelo thorn into the bowl with the bark and began a chant in that ancient tongue Tian Gu did not know herself. It was only for the initiated. The shaman then fastened the thorn onto a bamboo stick. The God of War turned around, facing the tent wall, so that the old woman could easily reach his back. Tian Gu felt very uneasy, but she dared not speak up again.

When the Wuwu hit the God of War’s skin with the thorn for the first time, he sucked in air - and to Tian Gu’s utter horror, his skin transformed into golden scales.

“Hold him!” the Shaman shouted in horror as he groaned, “bind him!”

“Wuwu, what is happening?” Tian Gu stammered and rushed forward, putting her hands onto her Shifu’s arm, feeling an immense energy trying to break out of him. Instinctively, she drew power from the earth underneath her feet, throwing invisible fetters over him to hold it down.

“More! More!” the Wuwu gasped, “do not let the Dragon win or we will be dead!”

Tian Gu dug deep and drew more power, reaching out to the hundreds of horses around them, borrowing from them to keep the Dragon down. The God of War himself struggled to establish control, but the beast in him thrashed and howled and cried: “My Fenghuang, my beautiful Fenghuang, I don’t want to forget what she means to me, I want to see her! Don’t do this! Don’t do this!”

Great sorrow hit Tian Gu and she burst into tears as she hugged the God of War very close, whispering to the Dragon that she would make sure he would see his love again, personally paying any price that was necessary. Even if she was not sure she could keep her promise, it was enough to quiet him down for a few moments, during which the God of War was able to establish control over his true form with a deep, shuddering breath. Tian Gu quickly released him and staggered backwards, tears still streaming down her face, her hands and nails of the deepest black.

Tian Gu closed her eyes, shutting out the memories, and very carefully reached inside Mo Yuan’s body. The remnants of the poison were getting ever smarter, hiding themselves expertly in his bloodstream. It was very difficult to reach the last droplets and even more difficult to draw them out. His breathing grew a fraction more labored and she moaned… he might be in pain, but touching this substance hurt her too. And it made her feel sick to the stomach.

Reaching deeper, drawing more power from the earth beneath her, she was finally able to capture the elusive poison in her hands. Her stomach revolted, but she clamped her mouth shut, determined not to throw up. She disengaged her hands from his quickly and threw the poison away with a hasty gesture, careful not to hit the scowling little immortal with it, even though she didn't know whether it would have an effect on him at all. 

A sob escaped her.

She could not help it.

Her Shifu exhaled and opened his eyes. She saw concern there, and that comforted her. “Are you alright,” he asked, reaching forward.

The Immortal made a muffled sound and the God of War's hand stopped and hesitated in midair, like that sound mattered more to him than his disciple's physical well being. Tian Gu scrambled up, tears threatening to pour out. She wanted to be all alone. Huddled up against a horse.

“Not many times to go,” she pressed out, “I think I got almost all of it. Shifu, take Zhe Yan’s potion now and then, rest.” It sounded like she was lecturing him again, but she couldn’t care anymore.

“Thank you, Eighteenth,” he said. "I am in your debt. I will not forget." His sincerity was enough to calm her down a little, but she could not bear to stay near him and his pain any longer. Looking down on her hands, she saw the black taint, signalling her overuse of power.

Quickly strolling by the Immortal who had gotten up, she made her way towards the river where the horse were tethered. They had been riding for days already, a very curious set of travelers, a mix of Celestials, Demons, and her from the Horse Tribe. The terrain they had traveled through was quite flat and vegetation was sparse. It was like a desert made of stone if not for the many rivulets of water they had to cross.

How she missed the rolling green of her home. The smell of grass. The buzzing of bees.

Shifu had had them set camp near a river’s wide bend. There were a few leafy Sandalwood trees which provided excellent shade and food for the horses. Tian Gu was the one who took care of her and Shifu’s tents, but seeing how the Third Prince of the Heavens was very clumsy, she had taken it upon her to pitch his too. He was always very polite with her and she thought she rather liked him. She had not known that Celestial Princes could possess a sense of humor, but he liked to make people laugh and there was warmth in his eyes. Warmth and curiosity when he looked at her.

She wasn't sure why he was even riding with them. In fact, she wasn't sure what exactly they were trying to achieve. Secrets. Too many secrets. She was so tired. 

So deep was Tian Gu in thought that she almost tripped over somebody.

It was Yue, who was wearing a sleeveless tunic showing the rather impressive muscles on his arms, and who was obviously trying to start a fire.

Oh, she had had dreams… it was hard to look at him and not to remember.

“Do you need any help with that, I would be happy to show you-”

“No, Princess of the Horse Tribe,” Yue said gruffly, cutting off her sentence, but not looking at her. “I do not need any help with it. I am quite accustomed to building campfires.”

“Doesn’t look like it,” she retorted. He was always very grave and not exactly friendly, but that didn’t change the fact that she was very much aware of him. Riding next to her. Looking at her. Studying her. His face was always cloudy and she wondered what burden he was carrying. His presence she understood: a spy for the Purple Queen. 

He was chewing his lip, continuing to fail with the fire, so she squatted down to block off the wind. With ease, he sparked a light then and set the twigs ablaze. Yue turned to her and gave her a small, grateful smile, making a tingly sensation curl deep in her stomach, tightening her chest and increasing her pulse.

She could blame it on the dreams, but she often thought about getting him to kiss her. She was also quite curious how touching his arms would feel, what his chest looked like and whether she could beat him again if they wrestled. She would like to wrestle him. A lot. 

“Are you alright, Princess,” he asked, wrinkling his forehead as he looked at her hands.

She quickly hid them behind her back. “Oh, sure,” she lied.

“You must take good care of yourself,” he said softly and her breath caught when their eyes locked. She had noticed when they had danced that he was really an attractive man. The bridge of his nose was narrow and his cheekbones high and angular, speaking of strength, also stubbornness. She would like to touch that nose and those cheekbones too.

He also was a very proper man, she thought. He would never make a move, she was quite certain. Even though she had basically been raised on the back of a horse, she was highborn and he was not. He was one of Yi Mei Niang’s slave boys, an orphan raised by the Demon Queen to serve the highest bidder. Her family would never allow her to associate with someone like him. Or maybe they would, but he was certainly someone to respect boundaries. Or was he? 

“Cozy,” a balmy voice spoke out behind them.

Tian Gu braced herself before she turned. Here was the other man who gave her dreams, but one who also made it very clear whenever he could that his bed was waiting for her. She knew many women in the Horse Tribe who would call her a stupid fool, but she was very wary of him. It was something in his eyes. He was hiding something. And he, too, was watching her. Even when he didn’t seem to be looking, she felt his attention on her.

“Princess Tian Gu,” Yu Dian said and smiled, though with a rather annoyed look at Yue, “may I have a word? In private.”

He gestured towards some shrubs to the side.

She nodded. “Good night,” she said to Yue. The guard got up politely and bowed. “I wish you a good, restful night, Princess,” he said and her stomach did a somersault again.

Once they had some privacy, Yu Dian enfolded her in his arms. She gave an alarmed squeal that was muffled against his chest - luckily, she thought, or it may have alerted somebody. She had been avoiding Yu Dian ever since the party - and he, too, had been rather cautious in his advances, something she had a feeling her Shifu had a hand in.

“Forgive me,” he said against her hair, “I have been waiting for so long to do that.”

She simply nodded, too dumbfound to move or say anything. He smelled good. A bit like home. Another wave of homesickness hit her as she blushed deeply. Undeniably, she had rather sensual dreams about two men. Sometimes at the same time. It was so embarrassing.

“Are you well, my Princess,” Yu Dian asked, “I see you looking more and more tired every day. Soon, we will reach my Palace. I will make sure you get the most comfortable room and plenty of rest.”

She pushed away from him, but only a little. “I am not tired,” she said. “You forget horses are my natural element. I must have missed them more than I knew because I feel I am growing stronger as the journey progresses.”

“That is... surprising,” he said with an odd inflection in his tone.

Tian Gu looked at him quizzically but of course, the handsome face revealed nothing. She had wondered about what was happening to her. It couldn’t only be the horses, she thought, but she wasn't sure. The closer to their destination they got, the more she felt power build and surge within her effortlessly. She wished there was someone she could ask… someone who knew everything about the Horse Tribe. Like her father.

“Do you miss your family?” Yu Dian asked suddenly.

She gasped in surprise .“Are you reading my mind?” she asked a bit suspiciously. “I was just thinking about my father.”

“Alas, I lack such amazing abilities,” he said, “quite unlike your Master whom I hear reads minds like books if he wants to. No, your eyes went wistful like you were missing someone and I guessed… I hoped it was your family. Would you like to talk about them?”

Oh yes, she very much wanted to talk about them! Excitedly she told him about her father and her annoying brothers. She talked and talked. In a strange way, describing their exploits made her see them as vividly as though they were standing next to her and that made the ache hurt just a little less.

“Princess Tian Gu, may I inquire about your mother?” he asked when her words slowly ceased.

“She died when I was very young,” she replied, her heart racing for the second time that evening but this time for an entirely different reason.

“She died?” he repeated, and she could hear that odd note again in his voice.

“Yes.” she retorted curtly. “Lord Yu Dian, I need to go check on the horses now, if you will excuse me.”

“Princess Tian Gu, I am sorry if I-”

“You are too loud, I cannot sleep,” said a small voice behind them. The Immortal! Tian Gu was quite certain he had not been trying to sleep at all, since only a few moments ago, he had glared at her when she had extracted poison from the God of War. No, he must have followed her around again, the annoying nitwit.

“Oh, my apologies,” Yu Dian immediately said. He and that thin boy were rather chummy, which was another thing that seemed strange to Tian Gu. A mere Celestial immortal, with no apparent status got such favorable attention from a Demon Lord? The one explanation she had come up with was that both her Shifu and the Green Lord knew about this Immortal's true identity - and that maybe, he was a Celestial royal in disguise, coming along for some fun. Maybe he only had a few more millennia to live and riding on a foray with his… uncle? the God of War, was one of his dearest wishes? Another explanation was that the Demon Lord took male lovers and had found pleasure in… this little thing. She wouldn't be surprised, she had gotten the impression the Demon Lord knew how to enjoy himself, but with someone so scrawny?

“I think my horse hurt its foot earlier,” the Immortal said in that strange, halting way of his to speak and pointed a finger in the direction of the horses.

“You want me to…”

“Yes,” he nodded, “come and have a look.”

Tian Gu scowled at him. For days, he had only met her with the biggest contempt, and now, he was seeking her help? But if it was about the health of a horse, she had to go and so she nodded in Yu Dian’s direction, actually glad to be rid of him, his allure and his questions, and walked behind the small Immortal in the direction of the horses.

Maybe I can ask him about his behavior, she thought, maybe I should? I could ask: 'Why do you hate me?' and maybe he'll be honest? 

But she didn't, because she thought it was quite possible she didn't want to know. When they were almost where the horses were, the Immortal turned to her. “You are a stupid girl,” he said. “Blabbing about things that you want to keep a secret. Keep away from that one. He is very handsome and his tongue is bathed in honey, but he is also very sly and plans to use you at an opportune time.”

Tian Gu was thunderstruck.

“You can shut your mouth,” the Immortal said haughtily. “I am only helping you because I want to find her too.”

“W….who?” Tian Gu stuttered.

“Your mother,” the Immortal stated simply. “I know who she is. And I need to find her too.”


Not much later, Tian Gu leaned her head against the flank of her resting beast and tried to catch her breath while praying to the Horse Gods that her world would soon right itself.

She needed to ponder over the things she had learned tonight and nothing cleared her head better than grooming a horse, far away from confusing humans.

Her fingers tingled as she gently brushed the hair of her horse and she felt an extreme surge of power wash over her. I am not even trying to call on my powers, she thought in amazement, what is happening?

She dropped the brush and without calling on any of the horses, opened herself up to see if she could indeed harness the other source of power. She almost got knocked off her feet. She closed her eyes, forced herself to relax her body and her mind like her father had so patiently taught her and concentrated on making the power flow to her hands instead of scattering wildly.

Tian Gu opened her eyes slowly once she thought she had done it well: her fingers glowed green. She crouched and touched the earth and let her power flow. She became aware of the souls of every living creature in her vicinity. This one was Yue… he had settled down to sleep, his small movements becoming fewer and fewer as he started dreaming. This one was Yu Dian… he was walking somewhere, rather agitated. This was the Third Prince… he was with her Shifu, the strongest of the lights, the strongest and yet the most guarded. And this… this was the Immortal, who was walking away.


The Immortal felt strange. Different. Like he was neither male nor female. Like he was both and more. Like he… when she probed on, Tian Gu's senses hit a forcefield so strong, she toppled over and lost connection with the ground.

As she lay panting heavily on the ground, she thought that of all the days in her life, this had certainly been one of the most interesting. Now, she would sleep. Tomorrow, she would talk to her Shifu. He had to help her with these new powers. And she would ask him, until he told her the truth, who or what that Immortal truly was.

Chapter 20b