Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 41a (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 41a

written by kakashi
edited by Ligayacroft & Panda

Consequences… don’t you know they are inevitable?

Cheat - be punished. Break the law - be punished. All things considered, he had lived for a very long time under these rules. He knew almost instinctively which type of misstep came with what kind of effect. Of course, it was always possible to miscalculate. But for someone who had willingly sacrificed his own soul, had given up his existence with only the slightest of regrets, the sort of punishment that using magic in the mortal realm brought to an immortal body was little more than a temporary inconvenience.

Keeping his eyes open during the cloud jump back, not falling off the cloud… sure, it had taken an effort, but it was nothing compared to what he had just accomplished. No time for gloating though. Open the cave, crawl in, seal it tightly behind him. Check the seal. Twice. Lie down next to Shao Wan on the soft animal skins, take her warm hand into his. Think. Had he accounted for everything?

The fumes from the kǔ cǎo hung in the air so thickly they were visible to his blurry eyes - tendrils of smoke, hanging down from the ceiling of the cave like cobwebs, glimmering in a dark green that stirred a fleeting, ungraspable memory in him.

His body became as heavy as a mountain. The weariness taking a hold of him felt like a part of the Nothingness. What if he had overestimated his abilities? What if… was he really prepared?

“Are you there?” he whispered to himself. Xiao Yu had been very clear, he should not transform until he was fully healed and balanced, but it didn’t hurt to loosen his grip on his true form just a fraction in a situation like this.


“We must be vigilant,” Mo Yuan said sternly. “We must remain in control.”

I must sleep...


Sleep. …..

Her hands… so soft and gentle as they progressed over his scales, from the tail towards his head, never hasty, yet determined, leaving a pleasant almost-shiver in their wake.

“... 115, 116, 117!” she declared with a trace of laughter in her voice. “All there! 81 of the yang essence and 36 of the yin essence. What a perfect little dragon you are.”

He rumbled low in his throat, snuggling a fraction closer to the soothing warmth of her body. If he could, he would enter back into her womb for shelter, for nurturing, for being in that blissful, mindless state of not-yet-in-this-world.

“I gave you your name expecting you would be black like me,” she chatted on, proceeding to check his claws, letting her fingers glide over each one appreciatively, “but no! You look like your father instead. So beautiful.”

Father will scold you for coddling me too much, Little Dragon thought, but it did not come with the feeling of fear, it made him smile. Father was never angry with Mother for long, he respected her too much. So he would let himself be coddled unabated. In fact … he turned to his side, baring his belly to her. Laughing, she gave in to his demand and started scratching it, not too hard and not too light either, knowing his preferences like only a Mother could.

“Let’s practice using your other powers, yes?” she asked after a while and gently but resolutely turned him back on his feet.

But… Father has forbidden it! Little Dragon said, turning his head to look at her. Now, there was fear rising from his belly to his throat. There was only a limited amount of respect between a father and a son of such a tender age and his Father Lord’s rumbling anger was as scary as the prospect of Celestial Lightning strikes.

“But I want it. I will talk to him again. I want you to be able to wield it,” his Mother said sternly, “it will make you the most powerful being ever, my son.”

It wasn’t that he didn’t like using them. But he wasn’t good at it and that … that was an embarrassment to him. Even though his Mother possessed all the patience in the world, his failure to wield it properly saddened him a lot. It was her power, her pride - of course she was disappointed, even if she did not show it. He had to try harder, much harder. He wanted to please her, to show her that even though he was not black, he still was the most filial son she could ever have imagined.

“... and not only powerful,” she added gloomily, “it will also protect you from her.”

They shivered together at the mention of that person, or maybe it was his shiver travelling to her body, for his Mother, she was fearless.

Please don’t let her come here, Little Dragon begged, suddenly feeling much afraid. There was a strange taste in his mouth, like he had eaten dirt. It turned darker. Had the sun moved behind a cloud? … was there even a sun? This was a very strange place.

“Practice harder,” his Mother replied, now not sounding so gentle. “I will soon be gone. You must free them.”

Feeling an inexplicable sadness and urgency, Little Dragon tried and tried, but the only reaction he got from the earth was a dark green flicker that raced into the distance and did not come back. One flicker.

It doesn’t want to obey me! he said dejectedly. Mother, teach me more?

“I told you before, you are the one who has to obey,” his mother said, heaving a sigh. “Why can you not understand? If only I had had a daughter…”

I am sorry, Mother, Little Dragon said chagrined. However well he did, this, he could not change. His heart hurt.

“You never even knew your mother,” said That Woman with her brittle, old voice, her musty smell filling his nostrils all of a sudden. “Which is good. You will never be able to be this powerful. Not like your father. The Realms are safe.”

Dread froze Little Dragon’s limbs. She held him. There was no way he could get away from her, because her hands formed an impenetrable cage around him, their earth power seeped into him, grew over him and was going to paralyze him completely.

Mother, where are you? he cried, craning his neck to see where she had gone, but there only was a great mist, a veil of shimmering silver keeping the everdeep darkness at bay.

“She is gone,” said the Old Woman, “you are dreaming.”

Little Dragon struggled to get away, even though he already knew it was futile. The Old Woman had marked him, the Chibang poison flowed through him, he could not break the fetters she had thrown over his soul.

Wood parts Earth, Earth absorbs Water, Water extinguishes Fire, Fire melts Metal, Metal chops Wood.

Black mist was forming around him. He puffed it away, but it returned. It pulled at him, wanted to enter him, made his body heavy like stones. It was earth magic, strong and dangerous, tethers anchored deep in the land, unbreakable. In an instant, the world became dark… the most horrid colorless black that killed any joyous thought and threatened to erase all emotions.

“Do you remember?” The Old Woman chuckled, “do you?”

Of course he did. He struggled with renewed effort. Not this. Not this again.

“Have you paid the price yet, God of War?” Wuwu asked. “Or will others continue to pay for you?”

Never… he had never wanted…

“You destroyed an entire mortal world once. Have you paid your debts? You selfishly chose to rid yourself of all emotions, in order to endure the horrors of war. Have you paid? You pierced the heart of the mother of your future children with your sword, have you paid? And now you think you, a Celestial warrior, can dreamwalk like a Shaman to help her? Sin after sin after sin. Look into yourself. Do you see your guilt? It is by far the most damaging poison in your body.”

Shao Wan… I need to help her…

“It is you. YOU are the cause of her suffering.”

No.... no….

“Did you not know that wantonly destroying your own soul again would demand a sacrifice? She is paying for you. Your sin… her suffering. Thousand of lives of suffering in the mortal world, an eternal struggle to find her way back to you, your very existence drawing the rest of her life out of her.”

Of all the horrors Mo Yuan could imagine, this was the worst. Punishment… but not for him, for somebody else. Because of him. His punishment, the pain of whom he loved.

Make it right! he said, what do I need to give to make her whole again?

“Whole?” Wuwu sighed. “All that awaits her is the Great Madness of her kind. Her life will slowly bleed out, her essence will seep into the Nothingness drop for drop, more pieces of her soul will go missing one by one. She is hanging onto what she still has for you, but it is a lost battle.”

“I will not allow it,” Mo Yuan said. And more loudly, because the sound of his human voice gave him some new resolve. “I will not allow it!”

Wuwu was quiet and some color returned to his vision. He stretched his limbs, tasting the familiar taste of blood in his mouth. Retching. Spitting.

“You are a fool,” said the Old Woman, but her voice was far away now, “you have no power here at all.”

“I will not give up,” he stubbornly replied, “I am ready to pay all the debts. I am ready to bear all the consequences.”

Wuwu laughed an eerie laugh. “Your biggest fear has always been exactly this: See others suffer because of you. THAT is the price you pay. Your death is the end, nothing else - but a selfish end, for you alone.”

“I will fight it!” he shouted. “I will protect all of them! Every single one!”

“Then be forever lonely,” several people said in great agitation, “you are forbidden to love. Love makes you weak, love makes you a teetering fool. Wield your sword as a sacrifice. You are the Protector of all. You cannot choose.”

Mo Yuan turned his head from side to side. Father? Mother? No. The presence of very old formless life around him was not benevolent at all. He walked forward tentatively, towards the veil of shimmering silver and the great blackness behind.

“Stop! Go no further!” someone yelled. Power was thrown at him. He flinched and gritted his teeth. There was no body in the dreamworld. There was no pain. It was all in his head. Without a substance, he could do anything.

He just needed to remember this.

A dream.

A dream, not reality.

“I need to get to the Demon Ancestor Shao Wan’s dreamscape,” Mo Yuan replied politely, because whoever had spoken was clearly an Elder, “I promised her I would help her. Let me pass!”

“No! You have no business there.”

“Let me pass! I will not stop.”

He walked forward in the silence that followed his statement. And suddenly, he could feel her, now that he was walking, he could feel the pull of the tether he had established between them. Was Shao Wan calling for him, was she in trouble?

Speeding up, he broke through the veil. The dark fog that engulfed him behind it was like water. It entered his lungs mercilessly and tried to suffocate him. No matter. He would breath again later. Mo Yuan pressed forward without even a moment of hesitation. There was no light at all… the blackness was absolute. When stars began dancing in front of his eyes, he welcomed them. Going back was not an option, going forward was the only way.

I will see my children. I will see them being born and I will see them grow up, he told himself over and over.

Eons later, it became gradually lighter and air was available again suddenly. Mo Yuan took a couple of very deep breath, savoring the fragrant air flowing in and out of him. He realized he had pressed his eyes shut in the darkness and opened them carefully, so that they could adjust to the brightness.

Shao Wan’s dreamscape looked like the Demon Realm, black, shimmering rock as far as the eye could see. And when Mo Yuan squinted, he could faintly see the taut tether at his wrist, like the fine tendril of the White sea anemone, pointing towards his destination.

I am coming, Shao Wan, he thought, his heart swelling in his chest.

Mo Yuan walked forward cautiously. He knew little of dreamwalking, because it was not an art passed down in written form. But a martial artist of his stature had keen senses and fast reflexes in any world or state and he knew he would be able to count on them if the situation demanded it.

He walked for a while and when he happened to look at his feet, he was surprised to find himself in his True Form.

But when he tried to fly, he could not lift himself off the ground.

Was something wrong with his powers? He tried to call over some clouds, but nothing happened. Rain? Nothing. Ah, right. No power. That made sense, because he would not want anyone with powers walking in his dreams either. He needed no power inside Shao Wan’s dream anyway.

With new vigor, he walked on, following the tether that stretched as far as he could see.

When Demon soldiers appeared in front of him, he stopped, not sure what to do. He decided to dip his head politely, indicating he came in peace. They didn’t look particularly peaceful though… in fact, they were coming at him from all sides with spears, very pointy spears and very large nets.

I mean you no harm! he shouted, but the roar that came out of his mouth sounded menacing even to his own ears.

When the first stuck his spear into his hide, he turned and snapped at the man, catching him by the arm with his large teeth… and by accident ripping it out.

I am sorry! he wailed in horror at the bleeding and feebly twitching lump of flesh at his feet, I didn’t mean to do this!

From all sides, they hurt him with their spears and other weapons. Three managed to throw a net over him, its mesh enforced with a strong magic. It made it hard to move. He sat there bleeding and shivering, feeling very unhappy at how things had turned out.

What dream is this? he demanded to know, where is Shao Wan?

“Quiet, you Beast!” the leading officer yelled at him, “or we will shut your mouth forever!”

They used magic to drag him along behind them in the net, not being gentle at all. He thought about putting up some resistance, but when he realized they were bringing him towards her, he just sat there quietly, licking the wounds he could reach.

Some time later, they reached the Obsidian Palace.

It looked slightly different than how he remembered it… bigger? Less… friendly? Or maybe it was the dark clouds hanging over the dark mountain range, giving the black structure an even darker hue.

They entered, dragging him through familiar and yet no-quite-familiar corridors, passing many soldiers standing guard. This palace… it was alive in ways it had not been when he had inhabited it briefly. In fact, it bustled with life. The sound of many footsteps, the whispers of servants, the smell of food.

Shao Wan has returned to her home.

“We captured a Dragon for you, Queen!” the leader remarked with pride and slammed the net with him inside to the stone floor with brute force.

There she was. So beautiful, shining, healthy and… very pregnant. Her belly was as round as a melon.

Shao Wan! he shouted, I have come!

“Extraordinary,” she remarked and got up clumsily, holding the melon belly with one hand, pushing herself off her throne with the other. “Get my engineer.”

“What luck!” a female advisor said, “just when you were about to run out of Dragon Blood.”

“Did the Engineer not say it was going to be a fortuitous week!” Shao Wan beamed at her. “A present from… the Heavens.”

They both laughed. That woman looked very familiar, but since she had her back to him...

What was going on? It is me, Shao Wan, Mo Yuan exclaimed again, don’t you know me?

But it seemed she couldn’t hear him. Mo Yuan looked at himself again. His color was… not the usual blinding, majestic gold, but some rather unfortunate brown-yellow.

“What do we do with him in the meantime?” the soldier asked.

The female advisor turned.

Mo Yuan the Dragon gasped. It was Bai Qian.

“Into the dungeons, of course,” his Seventeenth disciple said and waved her hand dismissively. “Tie him up well. The bleeding will begin as soon as the Engineer has calculated the cut angles and amount we need.”

What? No! Mo Yuan screamed, but his roar was instantly stopped by Shao Wan’s magic. She slammed him with such an amount of power that all went black.

I don’t like this dream, was what Mo Yuan thought as he lost consciousness and knew that he had indeed miscalculated. Easy? This was not going to be easy at all.

Chapter 41b