Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 46 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 46

written by kakashi
edited by Panda

~ 210’000 years ago ~

“Please, Demon Ancestor, this way,” Qing Quan said and indicated the way down the narrow, winding stairs with several deep bows and an outstretched hand that twitched strangely every few moments. The torch he held in his left flickered when a violent gush of air from somewhere attacked it. But the flame managed to right itself as he walked further down, soon providing the only source of light in the gloomy darkness.

Shao Wan nodded gruffly before following him, setting each foot carefully onto the tilted and slippery steps. She needed to be here, but there was something about this man she had instantly disliked. Maybe it was the way he looked at her when he thought she couldn’t see - greedy, lurking, calculating - or maybe the way he bent his back just a fraction lower than required, busying himself with appearing subservient to the extreme when it was more than obvious that ambition drove his every move.

Or maybe it was simply because he was Qing Jiang’s half-brother. The Yellow Demon Lord remained her most dangerous foe after she had returned from Shuǐ Zhǎozé, constantly fearing she would challenge him for the position of Overlord and making her life difficult with petty actions because of it.

Well, maybe she would challenge him. She hated how he had turned the Demon Tribe into the savages the Celestials had always believed they were. And his son, Cheng Yin… she felt an urge to spit out bile. She had kidnapped him, believing it would teach Qing Jiang a lesson. Now she had reason to believe the father had set her up to do exactly that. That boy - he was deeply damaged, groomed to be bait for a foolish woman like her… and just like a stupid fish, she had swallowed it.

Cheng Yin brought out her savage side, one that scared her deeply because she had found herself addicted to having so much power over a person. Whatever she did to him, he came crawling back for worse. Not long ago, she had woken up from this bad dream and had kicked him out of her Palace, vowing kill him if he ever came near again. Only… that wasn’t the kind of threat that deterred a warped creature like him.

“Be careful of the steps, my Queen,” Qing Quan murmured, holding the torch closer to the uneven stone. The stairs looked very old, as if the feet of thousands upon thousands of immortals had worn them down until their edges almost disappeared. Like it was from another creation, she mused and pulled her coat a little closer around herself.

“It is very scary here,” Fong Hung lamented in her ear as he grabbed her arm for support when he almost slipped, “Ancestor, let’s leave.”

“As if someone with your levels of power had anything to fear,” she laughed, but she sounded nervous and frightened to her own ears. It was a scary place. She took Demon Tongue off her belt, holding the grip in one, the thong in the other hand. Curling around her defensively, the weapon began to pulsate in a dark red that reminded Shao Wan of the Blood Moon she had recently seen rise above Zhang Mei Mountains, a harbinger of bad things beyond one’s control.

Qing Quan looked up from below and for a moment, it seemed like his eyes were shining in the same, eerie red color, but it had to be a trick of the torch light, because when she blinked, his eyes were back to being dark and mysterious while a smile played at the corners of his lips.

“That won’t help you, Ancestor,” he said and for once, he forgot to use that subservient tone, “in fact, I advise you to make sure your weapon stays entirely quiet as soon as I open the seal. The prisoners have been unusually restless lately.”

Shao Wan nodded and put Demon Tongue back, willing it quiet. She felt very uneasy though. Ever since she had found out the bloody Celestials had taken advantage of her to steal her Feather, she had moments of great insecurity. She hated it. One moment she was fine, the next moment, her heart beat so fast she feared it would burst, breath came short and stars danced in front of her eyes. She knew that some of the breathing exercises she had learned at school would help, but she would rather die than use a Celestial technique ever again in her life.

Qing Quan reached the bottom of the stairs and waited for them to join him, intently staring at the wooden door in front of him. The magic that sealed it glimmered red like Demon Tongue had a moment before. An odd yet familiar taste entered Shao Wan’s mouth: She remembered it from standing on an elevated plateau in her youth, waiting to be hit by Celestial Lightning.

“What type of power is this?” she asked in a hushed tone.

“You of all people would notice, Ancestor,” Qing Quan said, his eyes lighting up, “it is Celestial power I used to seal this door.”

Celestial power? Here? At the furthest edge of the Demon Realm?

He watched her puzzled face with eagerness. Then he blurted out: “I have made a device. A box, it contains Celestial powers that I drew from a storm. I put it here…” he indicated a place in the wall with a long-nailed index finger, “and here,” another place in the wall on the opposite side, “and built the door so that it connects both.”

Shao Wan stepped closer to have a better look.

“Careful, Ancestor,” Qing Quan warned, “do not touch it, it will gravely hurt you.”

They have tried to hurt me many times, she replied in her head, but they have never managed to!

Only one bastard had come close. His luck that he had been born with exceptional reflexes, or else.... Though she tried hard to push against the memory, his image appeared in her head: Proper, stiff, always displeased, clothes unwrinkled, hair bound tight with not a strand out of place.

She had never hated anyone more than him.

“When I open the door,” Qing Quan advised her, “dim your aura completely. The one you want to look at is at the far end, we will have to walk right through them. Follow me very closely.”

Shao Wan nodded. “You can wait here,” she told Fong Hung because she saw him quake and quiver from fear and what had to be the effects of Celestial Power at such close quarters. “It’s an order!” she added sharply because he would try to be brave for her sake otherwise.

Qing Quan performed a series of spells, all unknown to her, and the door swung open to reveal a gigantic cave full of several hundred blue shimmering domes.

Unbidden, a sliver of the Celestial power sneaked in past them. Qing Quan uttered a curse and tensed up - foolishly, Shao Wan did not understand why. It looked lost in the large hall, like it was unsure where to go. Snaking forward, it zigzagged through the air as if it was pulled and then released from all sides - until it hit one of the domes.

An eardrum shattering roar shook the foundation they stood on. Reflexively, Shao Wan clasped her hands over her ears, yet it was already too late, they started to ring painfully. A massive wave of power hit them next and she staggered backwards into Fong Hung who threw his arms around her protectively. It was unstable, dangerous, demonic power, robbing her breath away and making her head spin.

The most horrible sounds followed the discharge. A howling so tortured, it pierced her heart and drove tears of pity into her eyes.

“Power,” Qing Quan shouted, “even such a small amount riles them up like this.”

He looked at her, maybe to check whether she had dimmed hers like he had ordered, and then stepped forward. There was a narrow bridge connecting the floating domes, leading over what looked like a bottomless pit. Her natural reflex would have been to shut her eyes tightly, hang on to her guide and hope she did not have to see any of the horrors this place held - but she had learned at a very young age that for a Demon, showing weakness was the surest way to get yourself killed.

Thus, she walked slowly and made a point to look into the tightly sealed globes as if she were studying their content in a detached, cold manner. She saw faces in there, distorted, horrible, of monstrosities that had once been immortals, their eyes holding corruption and death. She heard them scream in hunger and in fury, raging mad and forever lost. She walked passed them with her head held high even if the horror she felt wanted to make her run away screaming.

They quieted down after a while, but the stillness that descended was almost worse than the noise from before because now, Shao Wan could hear her heart beat fast and panicked. Goosebumps spread when she realized they were all watching her. Hungrily.

“This is him,” Qing Quan said and pointed at one of the globes. “The one you seek.”

“How do you know?” she blurted out, instantly regretting her words and the nervous way she had delivered them because the sneer that spread on the Engineer’s face showed clearly that he saw right through her fake bravery.

“Because I am the keeper of records here, Ancestor,” he answered, “and because of that, I am the one who knows who they were and what they did to become like this.”

The unrecognizable prisoner before them was tethered by energy straps on his ankles and wrists. Shao Wan knew that the cord absorbed cultivation power, and the more force a prisoner exerted on the contraption, the more their own powers held them back. She might dislike Qing Quan, but there was no doubt the man was a genius.

“Can you open the dome? Can he… speak?” she asked him.

“Sometimes,” Qing Quan nodded, “but most are only shells of their former selves. Once they lose their control, they lose their sanity... and later all their memories. But he hasn’t been here for that long, there might be hope.”

“Let’s try,” she said regally.

The Tower Engineer nodded again and started to unseal the dome.

He who had once been her confidant lifted his head. Nothing remained of his former handsomeness. His long, black hair was gone entirely, his face was three times the size it used to be, and his once tall, noble figure had been squashed into a dripping, stinking mass of rotting flesh and broken bones.

“Yu Zong,” she said, tears beginning to gather in her eyes, “Yu Zong, what have you done?”

But the Crazed One did not speak. He only looked at her with unseeing eyes, his nostrils flaring once as if they had gotten wind of something interesting.

“He found it,” the Devil Tower Engineer said, his excitement making his voice quiver, “he found that place where the earth bleeds power!”

How did he…? Shao Wan turned around in surprise.

“Ancestor, I have been searching for it myself,” Qing Quan explained, two blotches of red appearing on his cheeks, “do you know what we Demons can become once we learn to harness that power?”

Of course she knew. But this man, he had no right to talk about her dream like it was his or like he knew things she did not.

“You must have heard about that weapon the Celestial prodigy made? A Bell. It has the power to destroy…”

“Of course I know,” she cut him short. He had no right to talk about that particular Celestial like this either - like he knew him as well as she did.

“We need something bigger, stronger, more destructive,” Qing Quan rasped, “and I am going to give it to you. We can take the Heavens. We can rule over everything.”

“We?” Shao Wan laughed.

Qing Quan stared at her. He was mad too, she could see it clearly now, mad and dangerous.

“Yu Zong didn’t listen to me, the fool,” he continued, as if he were somebody who could speak to her eye to eye about her old friend, “I warned him he would not be able to control it, but he was too greedy, he didn’t want to wait. I told him we need someone like you, a woman with your level of powers, someone who…”

“Presumptuous,” she hissed at him, “on your knees or I kill you on the spot.”

She saw it clearly, he wanted to defy her, to laugh at her, because how could the Demons even exist without him guarding these lost souls, how would they ever win against the Celestial Tribe without his inventions?

But Shao Wan knew how to deal with arrogant men like him. Do always what they think you’ll never do.

“You die today,” she informed him and struck him with her whip so fast and powerful, he had no chance to dodge or block. He toppled over and disappeared into the abyss below.

She realized her mistake when a small but horrifying sound right in front of her made her freeze.


Her Whip was an object of great power. In the pursuit of power, the prisoners that were locked away in the Demon Tower had lost themselves entirely. And still, power was all they wanted.

The eyes of the Abomination in front of her were no longer unseeing. The killing intent of the monster who had once been her advisor and friend hit her like a dark wave. And there was nobody around anymore to reseal the dome.


~ Present day ~

Shao Wan’s fingers were a fraction away from touching the object in Mo Yuan’s hand when Zhe Yan’s booming, angry voice behind her made her jump into the air from fright.

“Mo Yuan, you irresponsible fool! You really did it this time!!”

Smoothly, Mo Yuan slid the object back into his sleeve pocket. Oh, they were being secretive? Shao Wan beamed at him. She loved secrets! Keeping things from Zhe Yan was particularly enjoyable, because he had never shared any of his with her at school.

“Zhe Yan,” Mo Yuan said evenly, but Shao Wan heard a trace of tension in his voice, “I did not expect to meet you here in Qing Qiu so soon.”

“Get in here,” Zhe Yan barked and gestured to the room he had just exited.

Shao Wan had never seen him this riled up, it almost seemed like he wanted to become violent if rejected, but before she could start pondering the reasons for his strange behavior, Mo Yuan had grabbed her by the waist and cloud jumped away, so fast that the wind whipped her hair against her cheeks rather painfully.

“What are you doing?” she gasped as soon as they had landed and she had managed to get the hair out of her face and back in some kind of form. They were still in Qing Qiu, on the other side of the large lake.

“I didn’t want to be lectured,” he shrugged and quickly led her up a few steps into a cave.

It seemed… familiar. Confused, she slowed her steps. Had she been here before?

“Come,” he urged her, taking her hand and pulling her forward. “This is Yanhua Cave,” he explained and closed the cave entrance with a strong spell.

Not again. The last time he had passed out for days and she had almost died of hunger.

“I don’t think I like caves as much as you do,” she said with a frown, turning slowly in a circle to take a good look at their surroundings. It was fairly spacious in comparison to most other caves they had stayed in recently and this one looked habitable. There were many candles burning. Foxes liked to light their caves with candles, she had noticed that.

He sat down on a large slab with a few furs on it. “Come here, Shao Wan.”

As soon as she had complied, he took both her hands into his and looked at her intently.

“How are you feeling? Still often tired? Did you manage to eat a lot? Are you…”

“Shhhh,” she interrupted him and put a finger on his lips for emphasis. “I am fine. Zhe Yan said the babies are very healthy. But what about you? Why is Zhe Yan so angry?”

“Lie down with me,” he urged, “I am tired.”

She let herself be pulled down next to him, but she had questions and most likely objections to what he had been up to.

“Here,” he said and pressed his wrist against her lips. She had not expected this, but as soon as his blood touched them, she began sucking eagerly like a hungry baby. Mo Yuan sighed, a sound somewhere in between pain and pleasure and she wanted to stop to ask him what he was hiding, but couldn’t, it was too good, too intoxicating - until he gently touched her head with his free hand and brought her to her senses.

“Did I drink too much?” she asked, hastily wiping her mouth with her sleeve and peering into his face.

“No,” he said, “you can tell me if you need more.”

He was too pale, he could not fool her and his eyes were drooping, like he could barely stay awake.

“Mo Yuan,” she said, “tell me what happened.”

“I talked to Ye Hua,” he answered, “and then took a healing bath in the Realm of Supreme Purity.”

“And that took you 4 days?”

“I also talked to other people,” he said evasively.

And then, he coughed for quite some time, though he tried hard to suppress it.

“You bloody Celestial,” she snapped at him when it was over, “why do you keep lying to me?”

This displeased him greatly.

“I do not lie, Shao Wan,” he said, which was a lie in itself, “and I wished you wouldn’t always pick fights with me every chance you get.”


“I was terrified!” she said accusingly, “no word from you at all, of course I had to imagine the worst. I was already thinking about having to move in with the Foxes permanently.”

“Stop being so dramatic,” he retorted.

Her breathing came fast now. She understood, it was him picking a fight with her because he had still not forgiven her fully for what had happened between him and her in her dreamscapes. Only Celestials were this vengeful, she had very often tried to explain to him that she meant him no harm in real life, but how to convince someone as stubborn as him?

“Those were only dreams!” she pouted, “you are giving them far too much weight.”

“I wasn’t talking about your dreams,” he said after a very brief pause, “but yes, if we are talking about dramatic, then your dreams qualify.”

“Then… what are we talking about?” she wondered.

“Just have faith in me,” he said and closed his eyes.

She moved closer to his body again, content to feel his warmth and smell his familiar scent. She didn’t want to fight with him at all. She was glad he was back.

“Are you resting?” she asked and her hands sneaked up to his hairpin. “Isn’t it much more comfortable if you loosen your hair?”

“Do as thou wilt,” he replied, but she saw the tiny smile on his lips and it made her smile in return. Before he had a chance to change his mind, she took out the hairpin and unrolled his hair, gently pulling it in her direction, letting her fingers run through it until it was smoothed out.

A memory… Him, lying in a cave, white, lifeless, soulless. So much grief. So much pain… She shook her head to chase the images away. Memory? Maybe a dream.

“Didn’t you want to give me something before?” she remembered.

“Yes,” he said and something in his tone made her frown.

“I want it now,” she said. “It was pretty.”

He opened his eyes. “Shao Wan, I am thinking… I am not sure, but maybe we should have Zhe Yan near when I give it to you again.”

“Why, is it his?”

He shook his head. “Something… might happen. No, something will happen. I hope it’s good for you, but all of a sudden… I have doubts. We shouldn't be hasty.”

“You should have just given it to me before,” she said, now getting overly curious and a bit miffed about having something so pretty dangled in front of her nose just to have it snatched away when she wanted to take it, “instead of starting to think.”

He didn’t say anything but closed his eyes again. She settled down next to him, but she wasn't sleepy. How could she be, all she did these days was eat and sleep. And now, she wanted the belt hook and didn’t understand why he didn’t want to give it to her.

“Did you deliver the horrible little man to them?” she asked the Celestial, “were they happy?”

“Hmh,” Mo Yuan made, a non-answer, very clearly because he wanted to be secretive and not tell her anything.

“I should really have eaten him!” she said angrily. Now she was beginning to feel a bit fed up with him. Like he couldn’t trust her with information concerning stupid Celestial affairs.

“I said I’m sorry I believed it,” he said and pulled her a little closer, his hand on her belly, “you’re not a savage, you do not eat humans.”

They lay there quietly for a while, the only sound his regular breathing and the occasional dripping of wax from one of the candles.

“I dreamt about it!” suddenly she remembered. A dark alleyway. A salesman with a white face and red eyes looking at her from underneath a dark hood. A conversation… What had the Jiangshi told her?

“There is something locked away in there, isn’t there?” she asked Mo Yuan.

“Memories,” he said, turning to her, “they are your memories.”

“Oh! I will be whole again!” she exclaimed, “Mo Yuan, finally! I cannot wait to be who I once was, I hate it so much to be this weak. But wait… why do you have my memories in a belt-hook?”

“We did something very foolish when we were young,” he said and the regret in his voice made her feel apprehensive. “It was my selfish choice and I am to blame for everything… for everything that has happened to you afterwards.”

“Who’s being dramatic now?” she murmured, but a strange feeling came over her… fear. What had he done? This was definitely very dark magic. It was clearly against all the laws she knew. Where had he even learned how to steal somebody’s memories?

“Shao Wan, I am very sorry.”

What was she supposed to say?

“Just give me back my memories,” she said, “we will deal with everything else later.”

Mo Yuan sat up. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, of course I’m sure!” she said, “give me the darn thing.”

He put his hand into his sleeve pocket and took the item out again.

“Here,” he said. “Here.”


Now that it had taken root, it would not leave… but she had never given in to it, and she wouldn’t start now. Her hand shook, but she willed it still. She willed it forward. She took the belt hook into her own hand.

As soon as she touched the object, dizziness overcame her, everything started spinning and it wouldn’t stop. The black hole in her head was back and it was becoming bigger.

“Mo Yuan,” she pressed out, her voice shaking, “Mo Yuan, I don’t feel so good. Mo Yuan, what is happening?”

Fear… so much fear.

And then, nothing.

Chapter 47