Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 39 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 39

written by kakashi
edited by LigayaCroft & Panda

“... and then, the King pierced his opponent with his sword, look, like this… swoosh! and his heartblood sprayed everywhere, like this, woosh-woosh-woosh, coloring the King’s robes the darkest red. ‘This shall be my wedding gift for you, my love,’ he proudly said to his cherished bride. Surprised at getting no answer, he turned around… only to find her pierced through the heart by an enemy arrow. Though her limbs were entirely lifeless and her eyes already glazed over, it had kept her upright against the tree he had hidden her behind - making it seem like she was just waiting for him to vanquish his foes and to finally unite with her. Finding himself so suddenly bereft, with not even the chance to say goodbye, the King wailed in anguish and let himself fall into his own sword, cutting his heart in two, hoping with his last breath he would at least be able to reunite with his Beloved in the afterlife. The End.”

Shao Wan beamed at him expectantly after a small bow. “What do you think?”

Mo Yuan lifted his eyebrows, not sure whether he should be impressed or amused by her enthusiasm about the play she had seen yesterday. “Most mortal stories are like that. They end in utter misery.”

“Exactly, that’s why they are great!” she exclaimed. “Why don’t we immortals have stories like this?”

“Maybe because we do not experience physical and mental suffering like mortals?” Mo Yuan offered the most likely explanation.

“And that makes us tell stories of venerated old Men finding enlightenment in some cave? Pah,” she scoffed.

“What’s wrong about finding enlightenment in some cave?” he asked slightly irritated.

“Well, it’s boring,” she answered and hurried ahead towards the teahouse, like she couldn’t wait to part from him.

Mo Yuan sighed deeply and lengthened his stride to catch up with her. Keeping this woman inside without chaining her to the bed was impossible, but after the fiasco at the library on the first day, he had had to find another safe place for her. Though “safe” was relative and keeping his own anxiety in check took some effort.

“This is the best seat,” Shao Wan said and plopped down at a table near the stage. “See? I told you I need to be here early if I want to have it.”

“Here is your money,” Mo Yuan said and handed her a purse. His supply was running low already. He would have to earn some more soon, seeing how “hiding” in this large town seemed their best option right now. He didn’t think it wise to return to the lakehouse, even though it was where he had money in abundance and the place he longed to be with her the most.

“Thank you,” she said and put the purse inside her left sleeve, “if you return early, you can watch the second half of today’s play with me?”

“I will see what I can do,” he answered, and gently stroked her hair once. He would try to give her this small pleasure, though he abhorred teahouses. He abhorred any place with many people in it and quite unfortunately, that was about every place in this busy and prosperous town. The new Duke had just gotten married a few days ago and since he was a generous - or as some few said, wasteful - man, he was giving away food and drink freely ever since, to ensure the blessing of the people and the gods. It made everyone with feet rush to the city, which was about to burst as a result.

“Promise me you will stay here and not venture outside alone?”

“Stop fretting,” she answered and waved his hand at him as if he were an annoying fly, “I’m not made from glass. And I will be a good wife and wait for my busy husband to return and pick me up.”

Despite such assurances, Mo Yuan was constantly worried. Even if they spent much more time apart than together, and even if she tried to hide it from him, he knew her well enough to see that this woman who was the most fearless creature he had ever known… was afraid. Because her current vulnerability moved him to such a degree, he had deviated from his plan to let her (seemingly) protect him several times. That she didn’t put up more of a fight when he said things like “I will protect you” just made him more worried.

“I will be back soon,” he murmured and reluctantly turned his back on her after checking one last time that the childrens’ auras were well hidden.

The teahouse was frequented by both females and males of the lower classes, and he had assured himself that the owner was a reputable person who kept his business in order. On top of that, he had paid the patron some money to ensure Shao Wan was not lacking anything, least of all entertainment from storytellers and actor troupes remaining in town. He had stopped short of paying people to watch her… simply because he knew how she would react if she found out.

Outside, he directed his steps up the hill, towards the late Duke’s library. The man had spent the better part of his life collecting books from all corners of this mortal world and had ensured his son’s promise to keep them available to the public upon his death. It wasn’t a large collection by any Heavenly standards, but then again, it wasn’t the quantity of books that made certain libraries priceless.

“The venerated Master has returned,” the librarian bowed upon seeing him. “We are honored.”

“Thank you,” Mo Yuan nodded, “have you been able to get what I have asked for?”

“Yes, Master,” the small man beamed, “the scrolls arrived just this morning. My brother asked the Head Physician, who owes him a favor, and this time, I think you shall be satisfied.”

Mo Yuan nodded again and went over to the low desk that he had chosen as his place to read. It was near the window, facing the garden. Peace and quiet… those were hard to find in this town, but in this spot, he could almost imagine he was back at Kunlun.

“How is Master’s wife?” the librarian asked politely as he scurried after Mo Yuan to get him the newly arrived reading material.

“Fine, fine,” Mo Yuan answered quickly, trying not to feel too embarrassed about what he thought the question implied.

On the first day, he had taken Shao Wan with him. A library was an unusual place for women in the mortal realm, since they were usually not taught to read, but he felt much more at ease having her next to him. She had sneezed upon entry and had loudly declared that book dust was poison for unborn babies, but had settled next to him nonetheless, craning her neck while looking around.

“Are you trying to find new books about weapons?” she had asked him.

“No,” Mo Yuan had said.

“Taoist scripture then,” she had scoffed.

“No,” Mo Yuan had answered.

“Hmmmm,” Shao Wan had said, squinting suspiciously, “you are mighty secretive. I don’t like it at all when you are like that.” Slightly miffed, she had gotten up and walked away, looking at the occasional book or scroll on the high shelves.

Of course, there had to be the one volume in the Duke’s collection that caught her immediate attention.

“Look what I found!” she had screamed and had come running back, alerting and alarming every single person in the building, “it’s a book full of the most scandalizing sexual practices you could ever imagine!”

Mo Yuan had not wanted to imagine any of it and neither had he wanted to see the colorful and very detailed pictures that she shoved in front of him, pointing at the details she found the most noteworthy.

“Mortals are quite something,” Shao Wan had declared loudly and quite in awe, “can we take this one home with us to practice?”

None of the books were to leave the building, the red-faced head librarian had informed them, causing Shao Wan to get angry about “hogging treasures and denying people pleasures”, which in turn had caused Mo Yuan to grab her arm and leave for the day.

It had taken three more days for Mo Yuan to make sufficiently clear to these scholars what he was looking for. Now, finally, it looked like he was getting close. He had not done any serious reading for too long - it was like his entire being embraced this chance to learn something new. As a result, he was so engrossed in studying that he forgot the time completely. When he looked up, he found candles burning around him. it was already dark outside - almost Dog Hour.

The teahouse must have closed hours ago.

Mo Yuan jumped up, startling the head librarian who had settled against one of the shelves in the dark, sleeping.

“My apologies for overstaying my welcome,” Mo Yuan said, “you should have told me it’s late.”

“How can I stop such deep study,” the man replied, suppressing a yawn, “it would be sacrilege. I am content that Master is happy with what I found for him. Will you come again tomorrow?”

“Yes,” Mo Yuan said distractedly and hurried outside after receiving the man’s bow. Would the teahouse patron have let Shao Wan stay even after closing time? Or was she wandering around town all unprotected? He strained his senses, but that was useless, he himself had made sure to hide her aura and the aura of the children.

The night felt thick and heavy. In this part of town, not many lanterns were lit and there was no moon to provide any light either. Not that Mo Yuan needed any, since his immortal powers had returned to a large degree and gave him enough nightvision to be able to navigate the steep street, but the darkness felt menacing and only heightened the concern he was feeling.

It wasn’t until he turned a corner into one of the sidestreets that Mo Yuan felt he was being followed.

Next opportunity that presented itself, he stepped into the shadow of an entrance to a house and waited.

If someone was following him, that someone was smart enough to stop too. The sounds of a town preparing for the night were all around him, but there was nothing out of the ordinary his ears could pick up. Mo Yuan waited for a considerable amount of time, but no enemy revealed itself. When he really could not wait any longer, he glided away soundlessly through the shadows, turning here and there to shake anyone daring enough to tail him.

When he was absolutely sure there was no presence behind him anymore, he finally hurried towards the teahouse. As he had feared, everything was shuttered and dark. Suppressing a curse, Mo Yuan jumped over the wall to get to the backyard, where the owner lived, and knocked impatiently until he heard the shuffling of feet and the teahouse patron opened the door.

“Oh,” the man said and looked very scared, “Master, are you looking for your wife?”

“Yes,” Mo Yuan said and felt anger rise in him, “did I not ask you to take good care of her?”

“Please don’t be angry,” the man said and bowed hastily, “I did, I did, my wife even made some dinner for the Lady, but she became very worried afterwards since you had promised to be back early and said she was going to look for you. We could not dissuade her.”

Mo Yuan felt anger give way to dread. “When was that?”

“Nigh two hours ago,” the man said unhappily. “Oh,” he added, “you must go and inquire about her in the Red Peony! She might have gone there.”

“The Red…” That was the town’s main brothel, a building hard to miss since it squatted fat and comfortable right on one of the busiest streets.

“Yes,” the man said, bowing some more, “she was talking a lot with one of the ladies from there this afternoon and I heard them mention a meet-up.”

She is going to be the end of me, Mo Yuan thought unhappily, why can’t she just sit still and cause no further trouble?

Stupid human, said a familiar voice inside of him, when will you admit that you love the excitement she brings into your life?

The day she is safe and sound and by my side forever, he viciously thought and clamped down hard on this wayward side of him he had no time for right now.


“The God of War would never stay in such a vulgar town,” Yue scoffed, “whoever this is we’re following clearly has no clue. My Lord.”

“Shut up,” Yu Dian snapped at him, “you know nothing about this Cult. I told you they have very advanced magic artefacts from the Tower Engineer.”

“You also said the head of this Cult is Tian Gu’s mother,” Yue complained, “which makes no sense at all!”

“Because you have never seen her,” Yu Dian said, suppressing a shudder, “they have the exact same eyes. Tian Gu believed it too.”

“Yes, you messed her up real good with your warning, my Lord. Now she has to live with the fact that her own mother wanted to use her own flesh and blood’s body in some power scheme.”

“She better know the truth about these people,” Yu Dian said grimly, “and it would be better you’d listen more carefully too, Guard. This time, there are no women here to protect you.”

Yue downed another cup of liquor and glared at him. His constant nagging gave Yu Dian a massive headache. On top of that, he had to be careful not to lose track of the Soulswapper and make sure he would not become aware of being followed.

“How do you know that man is still around anyway?” Yue asked.

“Because Soulswappers exchange their blood,” Yu Dian explained, “we are all connected.”

But it wasn’t only the blood. There also was a highly toxic brew any acolyte needed to drink for several weeks and if it didn’t kill them, they were accepted. He would never quite forget the pain - it had a quality to drive even strong people insane.

“Great,” Yue sighed, “that means he knows you’re here too? A grand plan indeed.”

“No, you dolt, I can obviously mask my presence if I don’t want to be discovered.” Or so he hoped.

“Then what will we do if he actually finds the Lady Shao Wan and the God of War like you claim he will?”

Yu Dian snorted. “Get rid of the Cult member, then convince the two High Gods to come back to the Demon Realm… well, convince her. I’d rather see them part right away. This God is nothing but arrogance and trouble.”

“And then, we’ll hide her from the Celestials.”

Yu Dian nodded. Apparently, Yue had some sense after all.

“But why do you think he is running from the Celestials?” Yue mused.

“Because of some underhanded scheme directed at the Demon Tribe, of course,” Yu Dian murmured. He stared into his cup for a bit after that. It wasn’t easy to convince himself that everything the God of War did for the Demon Ancestor was just a lie. But he wanted to believe it… had to believe it.

“I don’t know,” Yue said, “I think he walked through hell for her. I saw what your Cult did to him in those caves. Do they really believe they can resurrect Nüwa? Lunatics.”

Oh, I am sure they can, Yu Dian thought with another shudder, there isn’t much they cannot do. Though the price is always very high for everything they accomplish. Resurrect Nüwa, destroy the thirty six Heavens and all of Fuxi’s faulty creation, have her create a new world just for her Demon Tribe. Ever since he could think, this had been hammered into his head.

“They still have a large quantity of his blood,” Yu Dian said. So much for Yue’s silly concern about spilling Celestial blood. If this became common knowledge with their Rulers… the world would go up in flames.

“If I had so much of a Dragon’s blood, I would drink it,” Yue declared and stretched himself. “I hear it is very good for your health.”

“Yes, hopefully it would make you smarter, too,” Yu Dian rolled his eyes at the Guard’s naivete. But truth was, the world was a better place with every person who knew nothing about dark blood magic.

Somehow fitting that right at that thought, he lost contact to the Soulswapper. One moment, his presence was there, the other… gone.

“We have been discovered,” Yu Dian whispered. “Now pray it’s not someone of the highest caste or we’re dead.”


The air inside the Red Peony was so heavy with perfume and powder, Mo Yuan sneezed three times as soon as he stepped through the door. Sneezing could mean death for a martial artist facing a good opponent, because of how it forced one’s eyes shut for a fraction of a second. Here, it meant being surrounded by a whole cluster of amiably chattering women before finding one’s bearing, which equaled losing without even starting to fight.

“I am looking for my wife,” Mo Yuan stiffly declared to the slightly older looking woman, whom he identified as their leader from her bearing, trying not to catch anybody else’s eyes.

“Your wife, my Lord,” she chirped and winked while all the girls around him giggled, “what, pray, does your wife look like?”

“Tall, slender, dark long hair, almond shaped eyes, a slightly pointy nose…”

“We don’t have any tall women here, my Lord,” the leader said with a patient smile, “they are not sought after.”

It was as horrifying as Mo Yuan had feared it would be. “One of your… one of the women in this establishment went to the teahouse with the green turtle at the door today. There, she spoke to my wife and there was an agreement to meet. She is currently missing and I… she is pregnant and I am worried.”

“Pregnant? Ah,” the leader smiled, “yes, now I understand. Mimi, would you please lead our honored customer upstairs?”

The girl addresses thus bowed and smiled, waving a delicate hand at him. “Please follow me, my Lord,” she said in a high, melodious voice. She led him up a long flight of stairs, looking back from time to time with a warm smile, as if to make sure he was comfortable, and then down a corridor with many doors to the side.

By the time they had reached the end, Mo Yuan’s ears were burning.

“Please, my Lord,” Mimi bowed, “step inside.” And she pushed open the paper door, waited for him to walk forward and quietly closed the sliding doors behind him.

Inside the room was a heavily pregnant woman, wearing much too little, clumsily getting up to bow to him. “How can I serve you, my Lord,” she said.

“Please sit,” Mo Yuan implored her, which only caused her to look at him puzzled.

“I… I am not here for that kind of thing,” he coughed, shocked and repulsed by the thought that these women downstairs were thinking he had come here to have intercourse with a pregnant woman. “I am just looking for my wife. She spoke to one of your… sisters today and…”

“Oh,” the woman said and smiled, “yes. Your wife is here.”

His smile at her words must have scared her because with another very puzzled look she fled the room before he could hold her back and tell her to rest while he went looking for Shao Wan himself. Pacing a little, trying to ignore some of the louder sounds audible from the rooms on this floor, Mo Yuan tried to calm his heart. That was futile, because as soon as the door opened again and Shao Wan stepped inside, it was flooded by the greatest relief.

“Mo Yuan,” she said and flew into his arms, “I was so worried.”

I told you not to step outside! he wanted to shout, but this was all his fault, how could he even think to scold her.

“I’m here,” he said, “I will not leave you alone again.”

“Where were you?” she demanded to know, pushing him away to peer into his eyes with a frown, “did something bad happen to you?”

“I forgot the time,” he admitted. “And I think I was followed afterwards.”

“Me too,” she gravely said, “me too. I went up the hill to look for you, but then, when I felt a lurking presence, I fled back here. I feel safe here.”

“We need to leave tonight,” he said. “I don’t like this at all.”

“Are you going back to the immortal plains?” she asked.

“I don’t think we’re ready to…”

“I might not be, but you are. You’re shining, Mo Yuan. You look so dazzling, I am pretty sure you’ve gotten back most of your cultivation already. Scaring these poor girls with your godly looks...” she laughed, but it was no merry sort of laughter.

“Did you not hear me?” he asked her. “I said I won’t leave you alone again.”

“But maybe I want to be alone,” she stubbornly replied.

No. I won’t allow it. No.

She had done this before. She might not remember, but he did. Pushing him away because that was easier than facing her fears. He would not allow it again.

“Fine,” he said, “then let’s do this.”

The spell was brief and easy, but the tether he threw over his and her wrist was of the unbreakable sort.

“You...!” she screamed and started to pull at the bond with all her might.

“You won’t run away like this,” he said, very satisfied. “If you pull too hard, you will hurt me. And now, come here. I have a few things to share with you that I learned today. Come.”

He sat down on the bed and pulled forcefully on their bond so that she basically flew into his arms. A series of very shameful thoughts flitted through his head when he felt her body against his, but he quickly shut them down in an attempt to uphold a bit of propriety.

Naturally, she had no such qualms. “You know what these mortals believe?” she asked him, shaking her head, “that it is very unhealthy to have sexual activities during a pregnancy! Any kind! Something to do with yin and yang preservation, ha. So there are men who pay to have sex with a pregnant woman here while their poor women sit lusty at home! I’d rather leak all my yin and all my yang than having to abstain from…”, she looked him up and down, “…this.”

“What have you been doing today?” Mo Yuan asked suspiciously.

“Only talking to women,” she shrugged and pulled a little on his mustache, “about their experiences. They told me very frightful things. If I had known all this, I don’t think I would ever have allowed any babies inside of me! Oh, and someone gave me a very, hm, interesting book to read, they’re very popular here… I was so amazed by the depiction of the main protagonist! He is just like you. And his name is Mr. Mo!”

“Oh, I know all about him,” Mo Yuan said, hardly able to keep a straight face, “and I even know the writer of these books.”


“Yes. Maybe I will introduce you to her one day. I think you’d get along!”

“Oh, thank you!” Shao Wan beamed. “I was thinking about starting to write myself, actually. I feel I have a talent for it!”

“I am sure it is indeed a great talent,” he said and kissed her. Just a few more hours, a few more days like this, he prayed. Just living like there is no past and no tomorrow.

But of course he knew: a few more hours, a few more days was the only thing between now and what he knew was headed their way. Inevitably.

Chapter 40