Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 26 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 26

written by kakashi
edited by Panda & LigayaCroft

Mo Yuan first thought his ears were playing tricks on him because just like his vision which went from black to much too bright, the sound came and went, leaving him in a strange and eerie silence before plunging him into brain-piercing noise again. But there was no denying it, there she stood, her frail, powerless, female form barely hidden by Lian Song’s appearance altering spell, her head held high, defiance and a trace of fear on her face.

Suddenly finding himself devoid of strength, Mo Yuan’s legs gave way under him, but before he could fully disgrace himself, somebody grabbed his arms from both sides and held him upright.

“Steady,” Zhe Yan’s concerned voice said. “Sit.”

His friends lowered him down on a stool they had placed in the sand for him. He murmured a thank you as a cup of water was thrust in his face. He drank it down, in one large gulp. Another followed, and then another. Slowly he became aware of pain now that his body was allowed to rest. Pain everywhere. He gritted his teeth, but it became even worse, lacing through him like hellfire.

“I hope you two agreed on this,” Donghua said. “And it’s all part of an elaborate, smart plan.”

“What do you think…” Mo Yuan pressed out, wanting nothing else than to shield his head against the sounds, the heat, the grating power of the Abomination in the cage. What was she thinking! Maybe, if they were lucky, people would simply not believe she was who she claimed.

“Why can she…” speak, he wanted to say, but the answer came to him on its own when he saw who stood behind Shao Wan, white as a sheet and trembling, her black hands hanging down lifeless on her sides. And then, the realization hit home that his attempt to protect Shao Wan had only created the perfect opportunity for her to do the worst she could possibly do: Out herself to the most power hungry of her kind in public.

And it did not look like they would not believe her. Quite the opposite.

All these Demons gathered here, they had quite obviously expected something like this to happen.


*Earlier that Morning*

“I cannot let you go out now that I know about those souls,” Tian Gu said with determination. “Of course Shifu is absolutely right to make sure you are safe in here.”

Shao Wan rolled her eyes at the young woman’s subservience. “So you are carrying unborn souls too?” she asked snippily.

“Oh,” Tian Gu said frowning. “Hm.”

“Don’t let him bully you so easily,” Shao Wan lectured her. “Obeying one’s Shifu is fine, but there’s a limit.”

Tian Gu nodded eagerly. “When his actions will lead to him getting hurt.”

“Exactly!” Shao Wan agreed though she could have listed a thousand and more better reasons why that man and his annoying ways most certainly should not be obeyed. “Now that that’s settled, can you help me? You seem to be quite powerful. If you could at least remove this throat-thrott…” and the hated curse hit her. She gurgled in frustration, tears of pain streaming from her eyes.

“Whoever did this to you deserves millennia in the form of a lowly worm with digestive problems,” Tian Gu murmured. She put her hands into Shao Wan’s again. “I suppose I can try,” she said, though sounding rather doubtful. “Curses are all somehow similar. They all… feel like some kind of poison. I will attempt to draw some of it out, alright? I’ll stop if it hurts.”

Shao Wan nodded but at the same time, ground her teeth as she wiped her nose and eyes. Everything hurt, all the time, but she most certainly would not tell the Horse Woman.

“So many spells on top of each other,” she murmured. “Appearance altering… was it Shifu? No, it feels different. Of Celestial origin though.”

Shao Wan was still amazed this girl had instantly known at a mere touch what had happened to her. She eyed the Horse Woman and her scrunched up face with apprehension. She had very interesting skills. Interesting... or dangerous. “Another masking spell, this time to hide the souls. Very powerful. Oh.” Tian Gu opened her eyes and looked at her questioningly. “Yours?”

Shao Wan pressed her lips together and glared at her. She couldn’t speak anyway, but even if she had been able to, she wasn’t sure she could trust the Horse Princess with this information.

“Never mind,” Tian Gu sighed and closed her eyes again. “They are… very hungry! No, you won’t get my energy, you little brats!”

She panted, fidgeting around. “Curse… the curse…,” murmuring things under her breath, adding strange moaning sounds, the Horse Woman poked around in Shao Wan’s body some more. It tickled and stung.

Shao Wan had watched the Horse Woman do her healing magic on Mo Yuan many times. She had not fully understood what had been going on, she just knew she did not like this intimacy between him and her, this hand-holding, these sounds the woman made. Now she understood they were sounds of pain.

The air around the Horse Woman seemed to shift and dance. Shao Wan recognized that the powers she was drawing on were of the Earth kind, the largest, yet most difficult source of power to control. It was the same kind of magic the Horse Woman had used in her tent when they had taken away her Feather - only that there were no horses around. And still, she drew it forth from the land, in thick, heavy threads. Maybe, the legends were true, Shao Wan thought excitedly, maybe the Horse Tribe really was one of the lost tribes. It would certainly explain why wielding magic seemed different in their case and why this girl would be able to meddle with a curse even Zhe Yan had had no power over.

“It’s so powerful!” Tian Gu gasped, withdrawing her hands rapidly. They were thoroughly black. She threw something invisible into the air and away from them several times. Then, she closed her eyes, trying to control her rapid breathing.

“I’m going to be sick,” she murmured and threw up into the only available object resembling a pot, one of the very expensive vases in the room she hastily bent over.

“I am sorry,” she said, looking very guilty as she wiped her mouth. “Let me try again.”

“You don’t have t…,” what Shao Wan brought out was still more gurgling than speaking, but whatever the Horse Woman had done, it was already working somehow.

“But I want to,” said the young woman and looked at her with her head tilted to the side as she studied her form. “It feels...a bit like Horse Tribe magic. But only in traces…only one part.”

I might be right about her mother, Shao Wan thought as Tian Gu labored on and threw more of the invisible something into the air in shortening intervals. The pressure on her throat lessened some more.

“You…,” the Horse Woman breathed and when she opened her eyes, there was fear in them as she gazed upon Shao Wan’s face.

“Do not say it. Do not ask me any questions either,” Shao Wan said with as much authority as her thin voice could transport. “Whatever you think you have found out, keep it to yourself or I swear, you will regret it.”

Defiance sneaked into Tian Gu’s gaze and she lifted her head. “I am not afraid of you. You will not hurt me. Shifu would not allow it! And you...and him...”

“If we do not hurry, there will be no Shifu left to protect you,” Shao Wan snapped at the girl, “he has no idea what he got himself into.”

Plus, she thought, she had been patient enough. The timing might not be perfect, but with an opportunity like this one presenting itself, she could hasten what she had come to do anyway: take back what was hers. And hold onto it for the rest of her life.


“You, Demon!” Donghua said to Yue who seemed frozen in place as he stared at Shao Wan’s frail form with huge eyes and trembling lips. “Explain this champion business to us.”

“Yes, High God,” the guard murmured and turned his puzzled expression in their direction. “It’s a fight to death. An old Demon custom, so as to not waste the most valuable blood of our Tribe: you can challenge another Demon directly or call for a substitute fight. He can’t refuse or she’ll be sent into exile.”

“I did say this was a bad idea from the start,” Donghua sighed. “Next time, Demon… consider telling us in advance about such customs?”

“Is it true? Is it true, God of War?” Yue asked, not paying Donghua any further attention, and then added, with a moan of regret, “why did I not recognize her?”

“Well, others far more powerful than you didn’t either,” Zhe Yan reassured him with a sneer in Donghua’s direction.

“In my defense, I never touched her!” the former ruler of the Heavens frowned. “I’m sure I would have felt her if I had!”

“She needs my protection!” Yue said with vehemence. He made a few hasty steps in her direction, two little fluffy, sadly hooting Dais running behind him.

“You stay here, follow your orders! She’ll be fine,” Zhe Yan ordered him sharply and Yue stopped dead in his tracks. The two owlettes stopped too and looked at the Demon Guard, waiting for what he would do.

The uproar all around them was ongoing. They saw that Lian Song and a very pale Green Lord had reached Shao Wan’s position. The Demon Lord rushed to support the Horse Woman, who seemed about to faint, but he clearly only had eyes for one person. Lian Song waved his hand in the air and removed his appearance-spell. Underneath was no former Shao Wan though but just a scrawny looking flat-breasted girl, wearing the garb of a Kunlun disciple. In the arena, the blue-clad woman stepped closer, her brow furrowed in puzzlement. Further up, an agitated Shǒu seemed unsure what to do. Some people shouted challenges, which Shao Wan answered by giving them information only she would know - about their families, about occurrences a long time ago, about things only Demons would know.

Mo Yuan tried to stand up, but failed. “Can this… fight take place tomorrow?” he asked quietly, forcing his voice to be steady, breathing in and out slowly and regularly.

Yue looked at him, the expression on his face changing from puzzlement to sympathy. Then he sighed. “That depends…”

“On what?” Zhe Yan asked solemnly.

“On the challenger,” Yue added and pointed. “Her. The Green Lady Yu Fén.”

“Does she look reasonable to you?” Donghua asked Zhe Yan.

“Someone who brings that here isn’t reasonable,” the Old Phoenix uttered, eying the caged Abomination with a lot of apprehension. “Do those Tower Bonds function without fault? If that thing gets loose…”

“Start healing me, Zhe Yan,” Mo Yuan demanded. One of the Dai babies, the slightly smaller one, looked over at the sound of his voice and began running in his direction, making a hungry, pitiful sound.

“It wants to be fed,” Donghua observed with a scowl.

“Get a Beast Master,” Mo Yuan said, “get them out of here.”

But there were no Beast Masters around and nobody had any real interest in finding one. The little Beast scuttled closer and looked at him with its three huge, black eyes, moving its wings up and down, poking out its pink little tongue demandingly.

“Do you have any milk?” Donghua asked Mo Yuan.

“He surely doesn’t have any, but soon, Sha…” Zhe Yan suddenly seemed to choke on something and swallowed the rest of his sentence as he coughed violently.

A little white monster wanting to be fed was the least of Mo Yuan’s concerns right now, but it looked so pitiful, he simply had to extend his hand towards it. It sidled closer and sniffed it. Avoiding the blood of its kin with a shudder, it started to lick Mo Yuan’s skin on his arm. The tongue was rough, its touch almost painful.

“Extraordinary,” Donghua observed. “Come to think of it, I don’t know anything about the Dai. What do they even eat?”

“I doubt you will ever get rid of this one again, it has imprinted on you,” Zhe Yan said to Mo Yuan with some excitement in his voice. “It’s best if you get used to being a father.”

“Maybe they don’t drink milk at all,” Donghua said with a frown. “I think it fed off your essence, Mo Yuan.”

“Or what’s left of it,” Zhe Yan said. “My powers seem very limited here, old friend. I cannot seem to heal you properly.”

“It’s because of him,” Mo Yuan said bitterly and pointed at Ying Ming. “He is carrying those devices that rendered me powerless before. He is suppressing my powers and by the looks of it, yours too.”

“Did we think we’re the ones making the shots here? But instead, we walked into a trap with our eyes wide open? ” Donghua mused.

“I know you came here to study Demon customs,” Zhe Yan said to Mo Yuan. “But I feel I need to object to your way of learning about them.”

Mo Yuan took a deep breath. There was no point in questioning the steps that had let them here. What mattered were only the results. “It was my intention to draw all the parties out,” he said quietly, “and now that new players have revealed themselves, we move forward. I will…”

He stopped, straightening his back. Shao Wan was walking in their direction through the sand, Lian Song, Yu Dian and Tian Gu, hanging on to the Demon Lord, closely behind her.

“Just listen,” Shao Wan commanded Mo Yuan, “and don’t argue.”

Mo Yuan pressed his lips together angrily.

“I have bought you some time,” Shao Wan said. “You will follow me to one of the fighter’s rooms where I will braid your hair. I will take my time, so you can heal there for a bit before taking on the Crazed One.”

“You will not…” Mo Yuan bristled.

“I said don’t argue!” she snapped at him, making the little Dai jump behind Mo Yuan to take cover. “I have no wish after all I’ve been through to be sent into exile. Nor do I want to see you killed. Just do as I say for once.”

“High God Mo Yuan,” Yu Dian spoke up, “time is of the essence and our Queen’s plan is very cunning. It is indeed customary that the challenger readies the Champion for battle. They could not refuse her demand. But we need to hurry.”

“Demon friend,” Lian Song said, “tell me. The Purple Queen is Overlord at the moment. How does this challenge business even work?”

“Ah,” Yu Dian said and looked over to his sister. “She can choose to fight for her title after this fight has been decided. Or she can step down and yield to the winner… which is everybody’s guess she’ll do.”

“Fine,” Zhe Yan said, “we only have one option then: Mo Yuan fights and wins and our dear Shao Wan, praised be, rules her people once again. I have no objections. And after that, we can all go home.”

“We are not allowed to stall any further,” Yu Dian advised and bowed to them. “There is a room over there for the preparations, High God Mo Yuan.”

Mo Yuan pushed himself upright, glaring at Shao Wan. But she looked past him at the little owl and smiled. “So you did get me a fluffball after all? Took a while.”

“You remember,” he said and his anger dissipated instantly. If she remembered this, it was possible the memory erasure had not done as much damage as he had feared.

“Why shouldn’t I, I’m only in a wrong body,” she frowned. “Now come. No, only Demons allowed,” she said to the Celestial High Gods when they wanted to follow them too, “you can stay here, behave and hope someone will bring you tea. And take care of the Horse Princess, she’s over exerted herself because of me.”

Mo Yuan followed Shao Wan, two little Dais and two Demon men trailing behind them. It took him some effort to walk straight and not wobble, but he managed well and the longer he walked, the more he found his footing. As soon as they entered the cool darkness of the cave system beyond the arena, he felt quite a bit better. Clearly, he had to find a way to take out Ying Ming and his devices before the next fight.

Mo Yuan was told to sit down on a stone bench in a small, barren room and to open his hair. It felt like a defeat to him as he reluctantly took out the pin to shake the hair out of the topknot. It also felt like the two Demon men were about to witness something very intimate and he hesitated, even though they had their heads bowed, eyes on the floor.

“I have no clue what pattern to do it in,” Shao Wan admitted, “they need to help me.”

She reached into his hair and smoothed it out. “Ah,” she sighed. “Soon…”

Accepting he had definitely lost this fight, Mo Yuan moved into the lotus position and closed his eyes. Fingers started tugging at his hair, voices murmured instructions, but he shut it all out. He did not have enough time to gather a lot of cultivation, but at least, he could try to heal the worst of the damage done to his body during this day.

Time passed.

“Done,” somebody whispered into his ear.

He opened his eyes.

Shao Wan stood in front of him, admiring her work. They were alone. Outside, his little Dai hooted softly.

“You once swore you’d never lose,” she said, looking deep into his eyes. He realized that she was afraid.

“The only one I’ve ever lost to is you,” he answered, extending his hand to her. “As you predicted I would.”

“But what if…” her voice trailed off as she stepped closer to take his hand. He pulled her onto his lap. Who knew how long Tian Gu’s magic would hold back the curse. It was better not to let the opportunity pass.

“No what ifs,” he said resolutely. “I know how to win.”

“What will it cost you?” she asked quietly.

That...that he was not sure of.

“Mo Yuan…,” she began, but her voice trailed off in a way that told him she was afraid to speak what was on her mind.

“Whatever you have done to receive your punishment, I will not hold it against you,” he said, taking a guess what this was about.

“Are you sure?” she whispered. He nodded.

“The one who cut off your hair during the War…,” she whimpered, “it was me!”

“For somebody who has wanted to braid it for thousands of years, it must have been hard,” he said quietly.

“Did they make it difficult for you?” she wanted to know.

“I think they did, but I had no feelings, so it didn’t matter. It grew back, Shao Wan. Do not concern yourself with such matters anymore. It is in the past.”

She sat there quietly, but there was a trembling in her body, as if more things wanted to come out.

“Something else?” he inquired.

“I’ve written and sold Mr. Mo stories,” she confessed, “in many mortal worlds. I needed the money.”

Mo Yuan chuckled. “I hope you dragging my good name into the dirt fetched a good price at least.”

She seemed very relieved he didn’t scold her. But there clearly was more. Hm, from Mr. Mo to… could it be she had been unfaithful?

“If you have been with others during your mortal lives just like I was…”

“No!” she exclaimed, “how can you even think that! Not a single time. Though I am glad I did not know about the third school of immortality, Fángzhōng Zhī Shù, because it would have been very tempting to gain immortality by acquiring the sexual essence of only a thousand males through absorption instead of following taoist practice!”

“Only a thousand…”

“You don’t need to get angry,” she quickly added, “I would have considered your feelings. I would probably… well, I am almost certain I would have decided to suffer through taoist practice just for you anyway.”

“I am grateful,” he said and smiled at her, though the thought of her sleeping with a thousand men even if just in theory didn’t please him at all.

“It was horrible,” she added, “boring and horrible.”

“Did you not have good teachers?” he asked.

She chuckled. “You. You were my teacher.”

“Me?” Mo Yuan frowned at her.

She pointed at her head. “In here. You were in here and helped me get through it all. It was… well, less lonely.”

“I thought you were dead,” he whispered and hugged her close, “I wanted my life to end. Whatever you did, whatever you will do, I will always hold onto you from now on.”

She was quiet, burying her face against his neck. But there was tension in her body. There was more? Was it...about the souls she had eaten? The laws of the Universe she had broken? It was what he was most curious about.

As he pondered the options, something suddenly clicked in Mo Yuan’s head.


Zhe Yan’s strange comments of late.

The flask he had given her, returned to Kunlun to his care, its contents shielded by a very powerful spell.

Her journey to Kunlun from the Nine Heavens in disguised form to get to the flask in the cave.

Her swallowing the flask with the powerful spell even though she knew her current body would suffer greatly from it.

Souls… souls demanding energy.

His hand shook like a leaf in the wind as he put it on her belly.

“Shao Wan…”

He did not need to probe for it. There they were, two souls, the magic who had shielded them all this time weakened, likely by Tian Gu’s interference. Tiny, unborn souls, hungry, reaching out as soon as they felt his energy, latching onto his powers greedily, drinking from them happily.

“Those are…” he could not continue. Words failed him.

“Please don’t be angry,” she begged.

His mind reeled. When… in the mortal world? When had she found out? Why had she not told him?

“You were under the curse,” she whispered, “I didn’t… I couldn’t tell you.”

She had transferred their souls to the flask before joining him for the last battle. She had used up all her powers doing it - he could not even imagine what it had cost her. She had faced him on that battlefield, ready to sacrifice herself, knowing the likelihood of her coming back was very, very low.

Angry? How could he be angry?

“My children,” he said, his voice thick with emotion. “You are carrying my children.”

In a body much too weak for two souls of such power. She was dying, slowly but inevitably.

“I will win this fight, Shao Wan,” he said, “but I fear the price will be very high. You might have to be on your own for a while, I do not know how...”

“No,” she said, cupping his face in her hands, “I will not be alone. I have returned to my people and I can assure you, there are many who will help me. And you, you will be safe too. Can you trust me?”

Trust her? Given options, that would not have been his first choice. But he had no options and thus, he nodded. At that, a weight seemed to be lifted from her shoulders. She jumped up from his lap and beamed at him.

A Queen.

Whatever form she was in, she was undeniably a Queen.

“I will trust you,” he said, because he would. And he would make sure she got back everything her sacrifice had taken from her and more.

Chapter 27