Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 30 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 30

written by kakashi
edited by Panda/LigayaCroft

“Qian Qian. I have been thinking,” Ye Hua paused his pacing in front of one of the largest paintings in his palace. It showed Mount Kunlun with eight tiny cranes circling the top in front of gigantic billowing clouds. Bai Qian had often wondered why the painter - he was very famous in the Celestial Tribe - had even bothered painting the birds because they were tiny, not more than dots, but Ye Hua had pointed out the loaded symbolism to her, the harmony of lines, angles and… dots.

All things considered, she still felt quite foreign in the Heavens sometimes.

Bai Qian put down her cup and folded her hands in her lap, waiting for his elucidation. She had known was coming. And not only because she had been thinking too… thinking about one person almost exclusively, but she had thought it wise not to mention this to her husband. It had long ceased to be an issue between them but she still felt it could turn into a touchy subject again easily.

“I keep thinking about my brother,” Ye Hua said, looking quite troubled. “I find it exceedingly strange that he would allow Lian Song to transform like this. He should have known I would become suspicious! But you know him much better than I do and hence I wanted to ask your opinion. Do you think…,” Ye Hua took a deep breath. “Do you think he believes I am this gullible?”

Instantly, Bai Qian heart overflowed with love for her husband. The thought of his brother thinking so little of him, that must cost him a lot. Was he right though? Did she really know Mo Yuan better? That statement, spoken with so much conviction, gave her pause.

No. She had only ever known one version of him - as her venerated, beloved Shifu, whom she would give her life for without a second of hesitation. What had been said during the war, she had tried to forget it. But now, his words, spoken so harshly, without a speck of emotion, resonated in her head again: Such a foolish and blind woman. I did it for you, because I thought you knew, but when I finally came back after millennia of agony, you had chosen to marry my likeness. She bore him no ill feelings for speaking thus, for how could she when he had not been himself? But these words, even though spoken during a time of madness, had made it clear to her that no, she had never quite known him. She had only ever wanted to see him as one thing and had never even considered that this sacred bond of theirs could be changed.

“Ye Hua…,” she began to put her complicated feelings into words, “I spent twenty thousand years under his tutelage, but ever since he has been revealed to me as your brother, you have been by my side. I know your brother just as long as you know him. And I think…” she paused and gazed upon her husband’s expectant face. “Of course it is you who knows your brother better than I ever could. Hence it is you who can best answer the question you have posed.”

“Qian Qian,” Ye Hua said and sank down beside her to take both her hands and kiss them, “I love you so much.”

He sat in silence for a while, holding her hands, thinking. But he looked less troubled now and finally, he smiled. “I do know that he cherishes me a lot, yes. So much he would do unwise things just to shield me from harm. But this time… he must know my ascension trial is upcoming.”

“He most certainly knows.”

“He knows you and everybody else will keep me from going to the Demon Realm because of it.”

Bai Qian nodded. “He knows.”

Ye Hua nodded too, now beaming at her. “So you also think what he wanted was for the three High Gods he took on his journey to be here in the Heavens, trying to convince me not to do anything untoward?”

It was very much like a plan the God of War would come up with. Get Lian Song, who would certainly be busted, to call the other two to his aid in alarm. Have them come and get even more alarmed that Ye Hua might amass an army and march on the Demons, in a time when Celestial forces were still not fully re-organized after the previous war. Have Ye Hua realize this and make sure they kept being alarmed, because it was the only scenario that made sense.

“I should probably continue to make it seem like I might do something stupid,” Ye Hua added pensively. “I will call on my Generals tomorrow. That will be very alarming.”

Ah, but there was one thing more. Bai Qian dreaded to be the one who killed Ye Hua’s good mood again so quickly after it had begun.

“But Ye Hua…”

“Yes, Qian Qian?”

“What about me? He knows me well too.”

Ye Hua frowned. “You, Qian Qian? What about... “ his voice trailed off and his face took on an unhappy, worried expression again.

“I fear I might have gotten a bit rusty,” she said as she summoned her Jade Kunlun Fan, which vibrated eagerly in her hand as soon as it made contact. “But I am sure whatever he has planned for me will be perfectly safe.”

Or at least, she - and more importantly even, her husband - had to believe that.


The moment Bai Qian put on her travel cloak, a familiar stomach churning, nerve-wrecking excitement took a hold of her. It was the kind of emotional state soldiers fell into before battle. For the weak of heart, it could be crippling, turning them into quaking imbeciles, leading to quick death on the battlefield. But for those born and raised as future kings and queens, it was understood to be a state of mind to covet, a rare opportunity to try one’s fortitude and grow stronger in character.

She had missed it so much.

She said goodbye to her children… that was very hard. A-Li looked at her with eyes taking on a wet sheen, offering her his Brush as protection - and she took it, gravely, thanking him for his consideration and care, swallowing down her own tears that wanted to gush out. A-Xi was too little to understand what was going on, but A-Li was not. Her brave boy who had already seen so much sorrow - if only she could convey through her hugs how much she loved him.

Ye Hua took her hand as they walked to the Gates, just the two of them. They walked in silence, because they needed the time to ready their hearts for the goodbye. Once there, they faced each other for a while, as if gazing upon the other’s face could lessen the anxiety they both felt. “Please be safe,” Ye Hua finally said, his voice full of emotion. And: “I love you more than life itself.”

“I will be back to send you off to the mortal world for sure,” she whispered as she threw her arms around his neck.

“I will not leave before it,” he replied, hugging her very tightly.

Finding out where to go had not been easy. Taking the utmost care that Lian Song, Zhe Yan and Lord Donghua Dijun would not become suspicious, she quizzed them about their adventures in the Demon Realm, until she was able to draw their journey on a secret copy of one of the maps Si Ming had in his library. Zhe Yan had wrinkled his nose when he looked at that map, calling it “as imprecise as a virgin’s imagination of the deed” and pointed out mountains, rivers and other other landmarks that were clearly missing. It was quite remarkable, Bai Qian thought, how little the Celestial Tribe, the Rulers of all, knew about the other Realms.

The location of the rebel stronghold where they had all parted ways was clear enough to her soon, but would it not take her much too long to find her Shifu from there? It wasn’t exactly like she could sense his presence in such vast lands. Hence, she and Ye Hua had come to the conclusion that he must have left her more clues: he was thorough and meticulous.

But it wasn’t a clue. Shortly after she and Ye Hua had realized what Mo Yuan’s intentions had to be, Bai Qian had become aware of a small black turtle following her around cautiously in the shadows. At first, that had not registered with her as strange, because there were quite a lot of turtles in the Heavens, as they had learned, all living in Yinguang Palace. For one of them to follow the Crown Princess around this closely though...

“Do you need something, Turtle Child?” she had therefore addressed it in an opportune moment, when she and the turtle were alone.

The turtle had transformed into a little girl with shiny black eyes and slightly tousled hair who had bowed eagerly. “I have come to be your guide! I was told to make sure nobody but you, the Crown Princess, would see me!”

“Who sent you?

“He-Who-Knew-Our-Ancestor and the Lady Savior!” That had turned out to be her Shifu and the miraculously returned Shao Wan.

And thus, the Turtle Girl was riding inside Bai Qian’s sleeve as she cloud-jumped down from the Heavens, tickling her a little with her tiny claws.

Finding her way through the Realms had always been a huge challenge for Bai Qian. Her Shifu knew that, of course, so he had chosen the turtle with the best sense of direction to guide her, as the girl proudly explained. Sitting on Bai Qian’s hand, poking her tiny black head out, she indicated with brisk movements where to jump to next. Unfortunately, she had forgotten to tell Bai Qian that she could not see well from that position, which led to them getting quite terribly lost.

“I need a break,” Bai Qian wheezed, holding her hurting side after what felt like cloud-jumping for a millennia. “Where are we?” She had gotten so unfit, sitting up in the Heavens all the time.

The Turtle Girl transformed and peered through the Clouds.

“Oh no! I think we have come much too far North,” she then declared with a quivering voice.

Bai Qian furrowed her brown and just wanted to scold the girl when the little one broke into pitiful tears. “The Lady Savior will be very angry! And she will punish me harshly, I know it!”

“There, there,” Bai Qian said bewildered and patted the little one’s head, “nobody will get angry - (though Shao Wan was definitely very capable of great anger, but no need to frighten the child further) - We will just go back... there…?” she pointed somewhere randomly.

“Do you want to go to the Fox Realm first?” the little girl asked, sniffing back tears. “Do you need to get something?”

“Ah, no…,” alerting her family would be very unwise. Bai Qian coughed and pointed in the opposite direction. “Let’s go... there?”

They did make it to their destination eventually. It was a volcanic landscape of a strange, haunted beauty, the hills and cones glowing in the evening light in a variety of brilliant reds and greens. Power was unusually thick in the air, making it difficult to breathe, but it felt as energizing as it was unsettling. They were far away in the Demon Nowherelands now, at the borders of the known world. Celestial maps did not extend to this region and neither had she ever seen any in Qingqiu. Suddenly feeling very lost, Bai Qian summoned her Fan for courage, which took on an unusual orange gleam in her hands.

The girl indicated to be quiet with a finger to the lips and tiptoed towards what seemed to be the entrance to a small cave.

“Is my Shifu in there?” Bai Qian whispered.

The girl did not answer, she only signaled to follow her and suddenly disappeared from view. Carefully and slowly, Bai Qian poked her head into the cool dark cavern.

It was very dark - the kind of darkness that was of solid, impenetrable substance and felt very menacing. She realized she had forgotten to pack any Luminous Nightpearls. The truth was, her eyes had never quite recovered after they had been reinserted by Zhe Yan, a fact he himself could not fully explain, but had once speculated could have something to do with Sujin’s impure aura that had forever tarnished her orbs. She had never told Ye Hua about it, of course, since she did not want him to feel guilty again and because the Heavens were so bright, she was actually glad her eyes had a somewhat diminished capacity.

As she stood still at the entrance, pondering what to do next, a hand grabbed her sleeve and roughly pulled her inside.

“Finally,” somebody hissed. “The have already started! You should have been here several days ago.”

It was a somehow familiar looking, sickly woman of small stature who was dressed in the white garments of a Kunlun Disciple and glared at Bai Qian with such anger above the small candle she was holding that Bai Qian raised her fan instinctively and almost took a step back.

“And you are…?” she said baffled and quite offended.

“That shouldn’t be too hard to guess,” came the gruff answer. The thin woman turned around and stalked away rudely, obviously expecting Bai Qian to follow her. The turtle girl walked next to the thin woman, throwing her worried glances from the side.

Could it be….?

Even though she felt her anger rise rapidly, Bai Qian followed after the pair of them and the tiny light the woman held, deeper into the narrow system of caves, clasping her orange glowing Fan more tightly.

“Where are we…”

“Be quiet, Fox Woman,” the woman barked at her, “we need to hurry up.”

“Are you… Shao Wan?” Bai Qian spluttered, because there could just be one woman in the whole realm who took such a tone with her. And then she remembered where she had seen this woman before. With Cheng Yin! In the Heavens! A maid!

The woman stopped and faced her. “I am and I am not, as you can quite clearly see. Can we hurry without the questioning now? We took such pains to get you here and now we’re about to fail.”

“How dare…” Bai Qian took a succession of quick breaths to calm her temper. But it was true, it had taken her much too long to get here and even if she did not like it, she had to either accept this woman’s lead or go back without helping her Shifu.

“He is in grave danger,” the woman added somewhat less gruffly.

“Then lead the way!” Bai Qian gave back and pressed forward.

Not long and they reached a small cave, illuminated by a few torches.

“Crown Princess!” someone shouted and ran forward to bow deeply. It was Shifu’s brown-haired disciple, looking quite radiant when she lifted her head from the floor, with her eyes shining like lanterns in her beautiful face, her hair bound tightly in a topknot.

“Please rise,” Bai Qian said.

Two other people stepped out of the shadows. They were children, two boys, one not more than a toddler, but emanating strange powers, both bowing respectfully.

“And you are…”

“Fong Hung, at your service,” said the older of the two boys with a small lisp.

“You’re her… mount?” Bai Qian asked full of wonderment. “What happened to you? I heard you were dead!” It seemed his childlike appearance was deceiving: she could sense his powers and they were quite substantial.

“Fong Hung returned to his Lady Ancestor before the war,” he declared matter-of-factly, “and then I patiently waited for her to come back here, as she promised she would.”

Bai Qian’s forehead wrinkled as she tried to processes this information.

“This,” Fong Hung indicated the toddler behind him, “is Ying’er. He doesn't speak much.”

“They are acolytes here,” Tian Gu explained quickly. “They tell me the Jiàopài Huàn Zong trains young men and if they pass a series of tests, they are used as servants for the Cult Members. The most talented can even assist during the ceremonies later.”

“And if they do not pass…” but Bai Qian already knew the answer. From what she had heard about the Soulswappers, they were murderous and ruthless, only serving their own agenda.

“Men have no power here at all usually,” Tian Gu explained to her, “unless they are exposed to the earth power for a long time. I’d really like that if it weren’t such a scary place. We went into hiding right after getting here, while the Lady Shao Wan continued to fool my... the Cult Leader.”

Her face took on a sad expression and her eyes filled with tears. Bai Qian felt fear rise in her. She knew about Tian Gu that she was very loyal disciple, concerned for her Shifu just like Bai Qian had always been.

“Where is he?” she asked anxiously. “What has he done this time?”

The woman who was Shao Wan laughed. A mirthless sound and much too loud in this confined space. "The thing he does when he isn’t killing people: sacrificing himself, of course. But luckily, you have finally come to save him - again.”


She was dying.

She felt it with every breath she took. It had only gotten worse, so much worse during the last few days of waiting. Every movement was difficult. It was like heavy stones were hanging from her every limb, dragging her down. She knew, if she fell, she would not be able to get back up. One step, another, one foot, the other foot. Talking… talking took too much of an effort, but it was necessary because they all looked to her for instructions.

She could not let them see how tired she was, that all she wanted was to rest, close her eyes, no longer feel this pain.

She could not rest yet. The man she loved was trusting her with his life to do the right thing. It would have filled her with wonderment, this mere fact that he had placed his life in her hands, but even that cost her too much energy.

Because the Fox Woman had come so late, they had bled him of a lot of cultivation already. She tried not to feel fear at the sight, nor anger, but it was impossible. They were keeping him in that state right before transformation, when the Dragon Power was the most powerful and wild, when the human mind could barely control the Beast and the Beast tried with all its might to be free. She knew he was accustomed to pain, but that did not make it easier to see.

At least, the Cult was so engrossed in what they were trying to achieve, they had no eyes for their surroundings. Fools. The Goddess of All was gone, just like Father Deity was gone. Why try to resurrect the past when you could shape the future? Their eerie chanting was drowned by the crackling of power from the many devices in the cave. It hurt. Shao Wan felt it in her weary bones like pointy arrows. She had once commanded a weapon that had been able to channel Sky Powers. Both the weapon and her abilities were gone - but there would always be a part of her that remembered the feeling. When they had rushed through her, threatening to extinguish her, she had felt more alive than any other time.

“Ancestor,” Fong Hung said next to her, “it’s that one. I already have the Stone of Rebirth.”

He pointed towards a crackling box at the far end of the cave. Shao Wan nodded and signaled to Tian Gu. After whispering instructions into her ears, she settled down on some rocks to wait. So weary. She couldn’t allow her eyes to close, else she would probably not be able to open them again.

The Fox Woman was breathing heavily. Would she do something stupid? It was ill advised to bring her here for this, but she was the only female High Goddess she knew after all. Shao Wan turned her head and sneered at her. “Do not intervene, you hear me?”

Her gaze was met with fury. “If I find out you are jeopardizing his life wantonly…”

Shao Wan snorted. “You will kill me? You can spare yourself the effort.”

That shut her up momentarily. The woman even managed to looked worried.

“Once we have the device we need, we go back to the smaller cave,” she took the effort to explain. “And then…”

But it was too early to explain.

“... we will leave him here?” Bai Qian exclaimed, “no!”

“Only for a short while longer,” Shao Wan said, though she thought it wise not to specify what short meant. “You will be able to free him afterwards. Have patience!”

“He has lost a lot of cultivation…”

The fear came back with a vengeance. Blood loss and lack of cultivation. Mo Yuan needed to be able to walk, cloud jump, perform magic in a mortal world after this. If not… She looked at the woman next to her, trying to imagine… what if...

Tian Gu was back, excitedly presenting her with the power device she had managed to steal without anyone noticing. Shao Wan knew she couldn’t touch it, it would consume her.

“Retreat,” Shao Wan ordered. She threw a look at the scene behind her. Fog... there was grey fog, filling the cave. They were drawing power from somewhere, a massive amount of it. It might have been her tired eyes tricking her, but Shao Wan thought she saw a face in that mist, two angry eyes, a nose, a mouth ready to scream. Nüwa?! Impossible!

The way back to their hideout was agonizing. Like in a dream, the narrow corridors seemed endless, the steps she took with so much effort seemed futile. At one point, Fong Hung grabbed her arm to help her along, giving her the necessary support. Her valiant, brave Fong Hung. What would happen to him if she perished?

“Fong Hung, I want you to take all my gold from the Palace and live a good life after this,” she said.

“Ancestor,” he said with a quivering voice, “do not despair. How long your journey has been! It is only a little further. You will live in peace and happiness afterwards. I will be there with you again.”

Shao Wan smiled. She would believe it. For him. For her babies. I am so sorry for your suffering, she said to them, putting a hand on her stomach. They were hungry, starving, but she had no sustenance for them anymore. Hang on a little longer, just a little longer.

They reached the cave where Ying’er was waiting for them and Shao Wan would have collapsed, had Fong Hung not quickly lowered her on a slab of rock that was so cold she felt a stab of pain at her backside.

“Hurry,” she whispered to him, “I cannot hang on much longer.”

“Yes, Ancestor,” he whimpered, turning to face the High Goddess Bai Qian.

“Crown Princess, I need your assistance,” he said.

Bai Qian came forward eagerly. Quite unexpectedly, she had not obstructed any of their plans, obviously believing that they knew exactly how to free Mo Yuan in the best possible way. The Cult was powerful, that much was clear even to the Fox Woman, and the many devices from the Lost Devil Tower and the Heavens in their possession had apparently struck a healthy fear into her. Shao Wan was quite decidedly relieved. It was questionable whether Tian Gu would have been able to subdue the High Goddess if she had chosen to resist.

“I will tie your hand to the hand of the Ancestor,” Fong Hung said as Bai Qian was next to her. He was very quick. The earth power band was around their wrists the next time she blinked.

“What… are you doing?” Bai Qian asked suspiciously. But it was too late now. The band could not be easily removed. 

“He will put my soul into your body,” Shao Wan said with a voice so feeble, she wasn’t sure the Fox Woman had even heard her.

“You are the only one strong enough to be a vessel for a while,” Tian Gu explained as she balanced a large tub of water in front of her through the air. Water. It weakened the seal.

“Are you insane?” Bai Qian struggled against the bond at their wrists, but it only fastened itself tighter.

Shao Wan smiled. The beauty of her plan was that Mo Yuan would not even be furious this time. Even if everything went wrong. He cherished the Fox Woman immensely.

“She is dying, Crown Princess,” Fong Hung sobbed, “we do not know what would happen to her soul - please help to save her. No harm will come to you, I promise. It is only temporary until we retrieve the Lady Shao Wan’s real body from the mortal world. Please. For her and her children.”

“Childr…,” Bai Qian’s eyes grew round as she turned her head to look at Shao Wan to observe her closely. “Three souls,” she then said, her voice quivering. “You want me to host them.”

“Please, High Goddess,” Shao Wan said. “If not for me, do it for them. And for him.”

Bai Qian entire being radiated anger. Understandably, nobody wanted to be forced into something like this. But Shao Wan had decided against asking her permission, simply because she could not take the risk of being turned down. The risk of being hated by this woman - it was nothing in comparison.

“You need to go with him to get my body,” she explained with urgency. “My soul will be dormant inside of you. Once you return, Fong Hung will be able to put me back into my proper body.”

“This is forbidden magic,” Bai Qian said sharply. "Of the highest order."

Shao Wan nodded. Oh yes. Forbidden and dangerous. But this Cult had been doing it for millennia and they still existed, stronger than ever. It didn’t seem like the Universe frowned at their practices much.

Then, she felt a cough come on. She coughed and coughed and couldn’t stop. Blood started pouring from her mouth, nose and ears.

“Quickly!” someone shouted.

Her body was thrown into ice cold water. The shock of it raced through her being like a bolt of lightning. But it was not enough to hold her back for long. She tried to open her eyes, but there was only a deepening darkness… rushing towards her like a black avalanche.

“I am sorry,” was the last thing she could think before everything ceased to exist.

Chapter 31