Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 21 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 21

written by kakashi
edited by LigayaCroft & Panda

“Get up.” The voice was ice cold and dangerous and felt just like a slap in the face.


“Get up, I said and get dressed. Now.”

Yu Dian recognized the suppressed fury, even when the face showed no emotion, even if it was very early and he was struggling to wake up from a pleasant dream; he knew to comply without resistance, his head down, fists hidden, because knowing when to be defiant and when not was a skill he had honed to perfection.

All his life, Yu Dian had learned how to hate Celestials. And this particular Celestial… he held a special place when it came to that.

Situated at the edge of the known Realms, the Green Kingdom was a forgotten corner of the world: Not many found their way there, even from the Demon Clan. And yet, it wasn’t remote enough not to feel the brunt of the Celestial subjugation. After the victory of the First Demon War, the Celestial Clan under Donghua Dijun’s rule had made sure to punish the involved Generals and their families harshly and to shatter the networks of power formed under the Great Demon Ancestor Shao Wan. In the aftermath, the Clan Lords had weakened each other with hostility and power struggles instead of standing together against the common enemy. This was no coincidence of course, but Celestial strategy, to be found written in High God Mo Yuan’s books about the art of war: “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable, when using our forces, we must seem inactive, when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away, when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Most importantly, turn the weakness of the enemy against himself - be victorious without even showing your face.”

He was showing his face now though and it could only mean one thing: trouble. But what kind? Yu Dian’s hazy brain failed to provide him with a plausible answer. His fingers searched for his stack of Huànxǐng leaves in the robes he had taken off yesterday in vain.

“I… I am coming,” he said, hearing his voice shake. He was afraid of this High God and he hated that he was.

It had been difficult times into which Yu Dian and his sisters had been born. People like Qing Jiang from the Yellow Clan and later his son, Cheng Yin, had dominated Demon affairs with their brutality and had forced peaceful people like Yu Dian’s late Father Lord to make decisions he would never have made on his own. Not having to take sides and not having to fight had become a form of art in itself - ironically, informed by High God Mo Yuan’s writing as well, which had been learned by heart by Yu Dian at a very early age: “Supreme excellence consists in being invisible, in being the watcher in the shadows, a force that does not reveal itself.”

Yu Dian had inherited his father’s love for the fine arts. Poetry, music, painting… it was what gave his immortal existence meaning. He had hated nothing more than his martial arts lessons and the need to excel in using a weapon, because it was time he would rather have spent reading philosophy and writing verses. And yet, he practiced with dagger, sword, halberd and whip diligently, because he knew that the ones who appeared weak were the first to be used mercilessly by those who were not.

There was nothing weak about High God Mo Yuan - and he knew masterfully how to manipulate and use those weaker than him. Worse, he carried with him the air of power of someone who had never in his entire long existence experienced what it meant to be powerless, what it meant to bow down to the will of an oppressor, to hide one’s true character, one’s interests, one’s weaknesses, only to persevere in this harsh world.

High God Mo Yuan was everything Yu Dian had learned to hate.

And yet, he wasn’t even allowed to hate him as much as he wanted anymore.

“Bring him to me,” his twin sister had ordered him, her voice thick with emotion, “he is Nüwa’s true blood son. We need him. This chance … it is what we have waited for. Do not mess this up.”

Their father’s strange illness had changed his twin sister in ways that still frightened Yu Dian every time he saw her, but putting the welfare of the Clan before themselves came quite natural to them.

Natural, but not easy.

He liked Tian Gu, he truly liked her, even before he had realized what part she was going to play in all this. From the moment he had beheld her unspoilt beauty, he had desired to get to know her better, without considering whose daughter she was and how his sister would react when he brought her to her. He did not want to be the person who had to use her - he wanted to be the person she liked too because they were compatible companions.

He was a romantic at heart, but romanticism had no place in his life at all.

It was easy to blame High God Mo Yuan for it.

Every Demon child knew what he had done. He had killed the Demon Ancestor, the woman who had first united all the Demon Clans under her rule, who had inspired so many to feel worthy and cherished. He had killed her because he was a Celestial and Celestials and Demons were mortal enemies - from the beginning of time.

She had been long dead when Yu Dian had been born - but in a way, the Demon Ancestor Shao Wan was Yu Dian’s first love.

He had read every single story about her. And he had come to realize that she was everything he wanted to be, everything he wanted to bow down to. A true leader. A woman who herself had never cowered in front of anybody, who had always done exactly what she wanted to do. Growing up with no parents or elders to guide her, she had found her place in the world all by herself, blessed with unparalleled powers, intelligence, beauty and an iron will.

Yu Dian had seen her after she awoke from her death. He had gone to the cave at Jingmei mountain to bow down to their Queen like so many others. Beholding her beauty had shook him to the core and had lit a flame in him that had burned ever since.

That High God Mo Yuan was the man that woman had supposedly given her affection to was outrageous.

As soon as rumors had started to circulate that they were husband and wife and her sojourn at Mount Kunlun had corroborated it, Yu Dian had known it must be part of an elaborate ploy on her part - or some magical enticement on his. Why else would the Demon Ancestor tie herself to the one Celestial who had brought them so much pain? And indeed, it had been revealed as the lie he had thought it was. When the High God had killed her again, Yu Dian had sworn revenge and then grieved, so much he almost perished. It had been his sister who had saved him, by giving him meaning, a mission - and hope.

“Brother,” she had told him, “the Mirror of Souls refuses to show us anything.”

It could mean many things. He wanted to believe just the one.

Here they all stood gathered outside in front of their tents. Yi Mei Niang’s head of guard, frowning, Tian Gu, looking excited, the Celestial Prince, yawning, the mysterious Immortal looking close to tears. And him, his enemy: High God Mo Yuan, not even wearing any robes, just a loose tunic and pants, and still, even like this, his hair was immaculate and his presence commanding.

“Hit me with your powers!” he ordered Yue.

The guard blinked, once, twice, and then moved into a fighting position. “High God Mo Yuan,” he said slowly, “how much power should I use, please?”

“All of it,” came the curt answer.

Yue complied, because that was basically the only thing he knew to do, obey without considering the consequences. Or, if the stories were true, the opposite: not obey without considering the consequences. Just as Yu Dian shook his head over his stupidity, he lifted both his hands and shot a wave of power at the God of War. Yu Dian gasped: The Celestial did not block any of it. For a High God, it was probably not a very big deal, since Yue was not that strong, but Yu Dian saw that Mo Yuan took a tiny step back and pressed his lips together upon impact, so it must have hurt nonetheless.

Afterwards, High God Mo Yuan just stood there in silence. The small group of people around him all seemed to hold their breaths. What was going on?

“Now you,” he said, turning to Yu Dian.

“You will not…?”

“You think me that petty?”

Yu Dian was not sure what to think. Mo Yuan seemed very angry, but he was also behaving strangely right now and people who behaved strangely were unpredictable. An unpredictable Celestial High God wasn’t something Yu Dian felt like facing this early in the morning. He looked over to the Celestial Prince for help.

“Don’t look at me,” that one said with a shrug, “I do not know what this is about. But I do suppose High God Mo Yuan will not consider it necessary to retaliate?”

Of course, the Celestial High God did not think it necessary to answer, he just stood there, waiting. Fine then. Yu Dian gathered power into his hands and only briefly hesitated before hurling it at him.

Again, the High God did not block, but let the energy hit him. Yu Dian knew he himself was considerably stronger than Yue, but he did not hold back. Actually, he tried to hit the Celestial extra hard with as much power as he could muster. Obviously to taunt him, the only reaction that got out of High God Mo Yuan was a sharp intake of breath. Yu Dian felt like hitting him again straight away, but that would probably have been foolish so he stood down and waited.

There was no visible reaction from the Celestial afterwards, only a face that could be considered a bit more thoughtful than usual.

“Now you, Eighteenth,” he told his disciple.

“You are still not fully recovered,” she piped up, “and I wouldn’t dare…”

“It’s an order,” he replied.

She too complied but she muttered angrily under her breath before hitting him. Her attack got a muffled grunt out of High God Mo Yuan and his face changed color slightly.

“The two Demons together,” came the next order and Yu Dian lifted his eyebrows up high.

“That is not advisable, High God Mo Yuan,” he spoke up, “we need to consider your well-being and in combination, we…”

“Your Lordship,” Mo Yuan said, “I know my well-being is the least of your concerns, so just do what I say.”

Fine. Yu Dian signalled to Yue to stand next to him and they directed their battle energy at Mo Yuan simultaneously. The High God staggered backwards, but only two steps before he righted himself.

“Again,” he said.

This time, he shielded. But not with his own powers. To Yu Dian’s immense surprise, he used their energy that had been directed at him: He caught it in his hands and built a wall around himself.

“Ohhhhhhhh,” the Celestial Prince Lian Song said. “Extraordinary.”

It was extraordinary indeed. The Celestial Mo Yuan was able to use Demon powers. As amazed as he was about it, Yu Dian was not quite sure whether this was good or very bad news.

When Mo Yuan declared: “We are changing direction. We’ll continue westwards. Get ready to leave!” it seemed clear it was the latter.

“But, High God….!”

“Did you really think I was not aware of the fact that you were rather too happy to have me follow after this Celestial traitor going in the direction of your kingdom?” Mo Yuan asked him. “We are now going somewhere else.”

By the Old Gods, Yu Fén (羽分) would be furious.

“If you want to alert your collaborators,” Mo Yuan said as he turned away, “tell them we are going to Huang Juéwàng. I mean to have a word or two with Shǒu.”


There was a way to get in contact with Zhe Yan and Donghua for emergencies. It had been Donghua who had fashioned the copper coins during a phase of acute boredom, many millennia ago. They heated up when one of them wanted to call a meeting and it was uncomfortable enough to get noticed from inside the sleeve pocket. After Zhe Yan had had them rush over to the Peach Grove in some state of alarm several times because he, in his own words, “felt a bit lonely”, they had come to an agreement not to use the coins anymore.

But the current situation felt precarious enough for Mo Yuan to call his friends that way. He had been told many times by different people that thinking he could do everything by himself was one of his biggest flaws. Well, he did not think he could solve this current issue all by himself. In fact, he was hoping somebody else would solve it for him. Since he was quite certain that he did not have that much luck, he at least wanted his friends’ blessing.

It would take some time for the two High Gods to travel the considerable distance between their current locations and this remote place in the Demon Realms, time Mo Yuan used to practice wielding these strange “Demon Powers” he suddenly seemed to possess.

He tried very hard, but it was a complete failure.

They did not yield to his command at all. In very rare moments, when he least expected it, he felt them course through him, but never long enough to repeat what he had done that night he had been able to speak with Shao Wan.

He had been able to find out that Tian Gu’s power were closely related to the Demon powers, but not exactly the same. He had asked Yue to show him how he used his, but that guard was not able to explain anything. “I just… use them,” he had stammered after trying to find appropriate words for some instructions. Lian Song had no clue whatsoever either, even though he did prove to be quite learned in many things magical, an outcome of many years up in the Heavens with nothing much to do except for reading.

All of this did nothing for Mo Yuan’s darkening moods and increasing anxiety. To be near her and still be separated was torturous. To see her frailty, her daily struggle, her increasing weakness… He was also quite certain there were Demons who at least suspected that Shao Wan was back and he did not like that at all. In her current state, she was much too easy a target.

Furthermore, he was now certain that Ying Ming and Yu Dian’s Clan were collaborating and that they had tried to use him, the God of War, as if he were a tool to be used… it galled him immensely. Enough to temporarily put getting back that memory token aside and take matters into his own hands much more forcefully. She had told him to find Fong Hung. It meant she knew he was alive. So he would go ask for him. Seeking out the rebel stronghold for that seemed like his best option.

Beyond that… he wanted to hear Zhe Yan’s and Donghua’s opinions. To hear them say he was crazy and should definitely not do what he was planning and then to help him anyway.

They did arrive, both at them at almost the same time, a few days after he had called for them. It was in the late evening and the group of travellers had pitched their tents a while back, the horses grazing quietly to the side, everybody keeping more or less to themselves.

“This better be good,” Zhe Yan grumbled and smoothed out his robes. He had ridden Bifang, his mount, which Mo Yuan knew gave him a sore back. Despite his grumbling, Mo Yuan noticed he was worried - he might be thinking Shao Wan’s health had taken a turn for the worse.

Donghua looked around before nodding to both of them and raising his eyebrows in amusement. “Are you feeling lonely, Mo Yuan? You seem unhurt.”

“Donghua, Zhe Yan,” Mo Yuan greeted them, feeling very grateful that they had travelled all this way to his help, “please, follow me. This isn’t about me at all.”

As so often when they made camp, Shao Wan was standing near the water, skipping stones. She heard them approach and turned, her eyes growing huge and hopeful when she saw who it was.

“I admit to being rather surprised,” Donghua said with a frown. “What is that maid doing here?”

“You’re in big trouble,” Zhe Yan chuckled.

“Have a seat,” Mo Yuan invited his friends.

“On the ground?” Donghua asked and looked at his pristine white robes with doubt. When Mo Yuan put a soundproof barrier around them shortly after, his frown deepened. “I hope somebody warned you not to take any of their many substances?” he addressed Mo Yuan. “Celestials tend to react strongly to them. You are behaving rather strangely.”

“Seating yourself is advised,” Zhe Yan said and plopped on the ground, crossing his legs.

Shao Wan crawled a little closer and sat down in front of them.

“It seems you’re trying to play a prank on me,” Donghua murmured and gingerly lowered himself as well, all the while eyeing her with apprehension. “But I’ve learned to play along so as not to disappoint people too much.”

“Mo Yuan thinks this is Shao Wan,” Zhe Yan snickered and pointed at the Immortal.

“Excuse me?” Donghua gently tapped both his ears as if to check whether they were functional.

“Did you assign her to maid duty?” Mo Yuan asked. “She ate souls and is being punished for it. She’s sealed in that wrong body and cannot speak of her predicament.”

“I…,” Donghua squinted. “What.... you are saying…”

“She confirmed it,” Mo Yuan said, “a few days ago. I was able to use Demon Powers and that must have temporarily dissolved that curse she is under. She was able to speak to me, though only very briefly. I need you two to help me get her out of this body and into a different one. If not, the body dies and the soul will be lost.”

Zhe Yan sucked in breath audibly. “It’s forbidden. And not only forbidden... FORBIDDEN. You cannot...”

“They know how to do it, I am certain. The Cult. Jiàopài Huàn Zong. I will get them to teach me.”

Shao Wan nodded furiously, signalling excitedly with her hands. Saying it out loud did not make it any less insane. Actually, it made it worse. If he was going to break the Laws of the Universe like this, what would happen to him? He might have to give his life.

When he saw her gesticulate looking very much like an impersonification of Shao Wan, Donghua’s face changed color. It was probably the first and last time Mo Yuan and Zhe Yan were able to witness such shock on their friend’s face, but the white-haired God looked as if he wanted to disappear back into a rock.

“Meimei,” he groaned, “is that really you? Will you ever be able to forgive me?”

Not easily, judging by the glare she shot in his direction.

“What dedication,” Donghua said and managed to sound impressed, “how many years did you spend on cultivation? Oh! Or did you use…,” he threw Mo Yuan a quick glance, “Fángzhōng Zhī Shù?”

Shao Wan picked up dirt and threw it at him, trembling in outrage while at the same time shaking her head at Mo Yuan vehemently. He had never even considered what it truly meant. For her, to have ascended on her own… how many mortal lives had she spent cultivating? His heart contracted in sympathy. His Shao Wan. Punished so much and only because he had not protected her enough.

“I am overjoyed to have you back,” Donghua said, but he sounded rather unsure.

“Wait a second,” Zhe Yan said after he had finished laughing, “did you say you were able to use Demon Powers earlier?”

“Yes,” Mo Yuan nodded, “but just once. I’ve been trying ever since, I cannot command them well at all.”

“See? I knew you have been taking those substances,” Donghua nodded to himself, seemingly satisfied to finally understand everything.

“I think my mother tried to teach me how to use them,” Mo Yuan added. “When I was very little.”

“Haha, you father would have liked that!” Zhe Yan said full of amusement. “Well… do I recall some rumors that your mother created the Demon Clan? That would explain things.”

“Those are mere legends,” Mo Yuan said doubtfully. “And I thought she…”

“Mo Yuan, are you half Demon?” Donghua asked. “You, the Celestial Virtue personified? This is turning into my favorite prank ever!”

“I think it’s the land,” Mo Yuan murmured and looked at Shao Wan. When will I get you back, my love? When will I be able to hold you in my arms again and show you that I love you forever and ever?

Zhe Yan looked doubtful. “Whose idea was it to send you here anyway?”

Had it been Ye Hua’s idea? Mo Yuan seemed to recall this, but in truth, he could not be sure how long ago this plot had started to be plotted and who was involved in it. He had moments during which he thought that the Horse Tribe was involved too. That would mean the curse had been part of a series of events leading inevitably to him coming here, to this strange land that seeped power, that invaded his dreams and made him doubt everything he knew.

“Are you willing to help me?” he asked his friends. “I cannot do this alone.”

“We do this and we might be punished more severely than she was,” Zhe Yan said. “Maybe we will have to spend all existence in the Animal Realm. I’ve never been in the Tiryagyoni before, it could be interesting.”

“It’s not a prank after all, is it,” Donghua observed. “Soulswapping? I didn’t know this before, but I’ve always wanted to know how it works. I’m assuming we are not to tell anyone about this? Especially not the soon-to-be Heavenly Emperor and his wife? He'd call the Celestial troops immediately to come get you. What chaos!”

Having these two as friends had not always been easy. But at this very moment, in those strange lands, Mo Yuan felt like hugging both of them close to his chest to show them how much he appreciated having them in his life.

He would do anything in his powers to keep them safe. Punishment was certain. But he would make sure they would get out of this unharmed.

Chapter 22