Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 51 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)


Chapter 51

written by kakashi
edited by Ligaya&Panda

Shao Wan dreams.

It is a strange place. She turns in a full circle to see better. The grassy, sunbleached plains stretch far, far, far to all sides… to the right, there are snow-capped mountains, but their massive size is reduced to a jagged line of haziness in the distance.

Small, lazy clouds float overhead, throwing wandering shadows onto the rolling sea of brown-green grass. Busy patches of darkness and light, only passing through, never to return.

This world feels old and yet young. Made and then unmade, a mere thought with no substance. It is from a different creation, Shao Wan understands, one she knows and yet cannot know. It is puzzling, this feeling of familiarity that is not based on memories.

She frowns. It feels wrong. She should not be here.

There is a presence, it commands this world. It is not menacing, but it seems surprised.

“Who are you?” she asks the flimmering air. “Show yourself!”

An old woman takes form in front of her. She is slight, her face weathered, looking like old leather. Age has hunched her back. Her thinning hair is long and as white as snow. Small braids with shells and feathers adorn it. In her right hand, she holds a plain staff. It looks like it’s a simple piece of wood she supports herself with, but Shao Wan knows it is a very powerful weapon.

“You are no dragon,” the old woman observes drily.

Shao Wan eyes her warily. Her voice sounds tired and brittle, but it is clear that this woman is a mighty sorceress and that this world is of her making.

“Elder,” Shao Wan addresses her politely enough, “why have you called me into your dreamscape?”

“Not you,” the woman answers. Her eyes, Shao Wan notices with a shudder, hold the memories of several lifetimes. “This is a prison for dragons,” she adds, “not for birds.”

Shao Wan turns her head from left to right again to look at the landscape anew. How is this a prison? This world feels vast and borderless. But when she concentrates hard, she feels the pull of the earth.
Wood parts Earth, Earth absorbs Water, Water extinguishes Fire, Fire melts Metal, Metal chops Wood. This earth magic is very strong. A Water Dragon, even one as powerful as Mo Yuan, would feel its effects most keenly.

“You know him,” the old woman says and her voice suddenly carries a chill that darkens the sun. “You are tightly connected. As tightly as two bodies can be. He is in you.”

“If you hurt him, I will kill you,” Shao Wan says sharply, stabbing her index finger in the shaman’s direction. A poor substitute for a weapon.

The old woman chuckles. “Now I know who you are. You foolish woman. Why did you let yourself be tied down by a dragon, and worse,
his son?”

Shao Wan feels anger start churning in her stomach. She hates being judged. And she hates being talked to in such a condescending tone. And most of all, she hates it when people talk badly about Mo Yuan.

“I am not tied down,” she says to the old woman, “I freely chose my Fate!”

“You are powerless because of him,” the old woman retorts sharply, “reduced to a mere shadow of what you used to be.”

“I challenged Fate willingly,” Shao Wan gives back, her hands sneaking to her belly, as if they are powerful enough to protect what’s inside of her, “he has nothing to do with it.”

Now the old woman laughs, her head thrown back - her whole body shakes.

“It is always
men that undo us,” she says after she has calmed down, “I have seen it again and again and again. He killed you. His sword destroyed your soul. Do you not know what power it holds?”

The old woman’s voice is captivating and seductive, like she was weaving a special magic with it. What does she want? If turning her against Mo Yuan is her goal, it’s not going to work, however powerful her magic. Shao Wan has wasted enough time thinking she hated him when she never did, not even for a second.

“He inherited Fuxi’s sword,” the old woman continues her explanation, “Fuxi the Destroyer. People only remember what he created, never what he destroyed. Such is his power.”

Shao Wan feels puzzled. What was the old woman alluding to? She has met Father Immortal many times. Of course he destroyed things in the endless wars at the beginning of the creation. All of them killed. There were times her tears didn’t dry for months.

“Not being his creatures, he wanted to kill all of us. He almost succeeded. Almost.”

The old woman’s face is full of hate. She is dangerous. How old might she be? Shao Wan tries to probe her spiritual breath, but the old woman won’t let her.

Fuxi is dead. He died many, many years ago. His son is not. His son is alive and she very much wants him to stay alive for all eternity. That feeling she has come to know as
love tightens her throat. But Mo Yuan isn’t here. And she shouldn’t think of him too much lest he comes. He is in danger in this world.

“What does the father have to do with the son?” she exclaims. “You want Mo Yuan to pay for whatever you claim his father did?”

The old woman shakes her head.

Something in Shao Wan’s head clicks. Is this about Nüwa?

“You want Nüwa back,” she suggests. Nüwa and… wasn’t there someone else? Shao Wan tries to remember who made the Demon Clan. Nüwa and… there always have to be two for creation. One yin, one yang.

But no answer comes. The old woman is no longer there. The grass world is gone. Shao Wan is waking up.

The dream fades as soon as she opens her eyes. She forgets everything.

Almost everything.


“If you must return to the Nine Heavens, Ye Hua, go now. Your trial is commencing very soon.”

His brother sounded still so very tired, even after sleeping for days. Ye Hua had sympathy for that, he himself was no stranger to this bone-deep weariness that could overcome you at times. He had even called for the Medicine King once, sure he had to have been poisoned to feel this drained, but the man had sternly told him after his examination that “even immortal bodies had their limits” and had forced a sleeping potion on him.

At least he had been told it was a sleeping potion.

Ye Hua was torn about Zhe Yan’s methods. The Old Phoenix was probably right - the God of War would never have rested voluntarily. But tricking him into drinking such a strong potion by telling him it was for healing?

“Crown Prince,” Zhe Yan had sighed while pulling a face, “I have known the High God Mo Yuan much, much longer than you and I daresay there is not a more stubborn person in the entire world. Pleased? He won’t be. He might not even thank me. But necessary? Yes. It was.”

The Horse Woman had used her strange magic on his brother. Ye Hua had tried to be trustful, but he could not be. Too vivid were his memories of the war and what had happened to his brother. He had hovered close during the treatment, despite Zhe Yan’s disapproving looks. The young woman’s sacrifice did not leave him unmoved though: the magic left her in a state of utter weakness and pain. Zhe Yan had rushed to her side to steady her when she had tried to get up, but not even after some transfer of cultivation had her condition improved much.

“Is it out?” Zhe Yan had wanted to know in a state of some agitation. “Have you removed all of it?”

“I… think so,” Tian Gu had said with a voice that had been hardly audible, “I will check after… sleep. Please forgive me.”

“I am grateful for your help,” Ye Hua had said to her with a bow.

He was. But it did not change the fact that he wished this woman and her tribe had never crossed paths with theirs.

Not much later, Mo Yuan had woken up. The anguish in his eyes, though hidden quickly, reverberated painfully in Ye Hua’s heart and he almost wished he hadn’t let Qian Qian go back to the Heavens for the kids. She would certainly have known how to bring comfort to Mo Yuan. Ye Hua still hated her and his brother’s closeness, but he had talked himself into being noble and magnanimous about it.

“Drink this, Da Ge,” Ye Hua said and handed his brother the goblet he had been warming between his fingers with magic. “I don’t need to return to the Heavens just yet.”

Zhe Yan had given it to him, but had decided it was better to wait outside, until he could be sure Mo Yuan wasn’t planning to cut his head off.

“No,” Mo Yuan flatly but resolutely refused.

“Da-Ge… it’s to give you strength, High God Zhe Yan said.”

“No,” Mo Yuan repeated and sat up, his hands reaching up to check whether his hair was in order, then busying themselves with the folds of his robe. He then sat there on the edge of Qian Qian’s bed for a few moments like he wasn’t sure what to do next, staring at his wrists.

“Should I… try it for you?” Ye Hua offered, his heart contracting in sympathy. “So you can see it is not… I mean…” his voice faltered. He didn’t want to get Zhe Yan into more trouble by suggesting this potion was questionable.

“No,” Mo Yuan said again, refusing to even look his way.

A part of Ye Hua understood why his brother was angry with him. Had Ye Hua not insisted on a punishment for who had used magic against Bai Qian, his brother would not have been in such bad shape. Zhe Yan would not have had to put him to sleep forcefully. He would have been able to hold back his wife from doing something so foolhardy.

The other part of him did not understand though. Not at all. I will not change the laws just for her! Ye Hua thought, realizing he carried a lot of unspent anger around. And it was your own choice to associate with difficult Demon women who run away first chance they get! You can’t blame others for that.

Donghua Dijun had come to him at night, telling him that Shao Wan was about to leave the Fox Den to go back to the Demon Realm.

“You must stop her!” Ye Hua had exclaimed in shock. He had hardly been able to keep his eyes away from her rounded belly all evening long. It was a beautiful thing to behold on any woman, but this woman’s belly held what was going to be a niece and a nephew of his. His brother’s children! It was such a joyous, wondrous thing.

“Ah, but that’s not possible,” Dijun had shrugged, “I’ve known this woman for almost my entire life. I will accompany her instead. Mo Yuan will be furious, but at least, she’ll be safe. I promise to take good care of her. It is your job to make sure the God of War does not do anything rash, yes?”

On a whim, Ye Hua had given Donghua Dijun some of his blood for her, in a bottle. Ye Hua was sure it would serve the same purpose as his brother’s. In addition, it was untainted by strange Horse Tribe poisons and didn’t contain Fox essence.

And, Ye Hua thought with satisfaction, my wife has fed you her blood, so I’m now feeding your wife mine.
Mo Yuan got up from the bed and seemed ready to leave.

Alone. Forever alone. It was like he just didn’t want to change his ways. Did he not understand how hurtful it was? Like nobody else was good enough to handle what the God of War handled.

“Stop, Da-Ge,” Ye Hua said boldly. His anger made him brave. So brave, he stepped between his brother and the door, physically baring his way.

He knew instantly why most people would tremble in fear when they heard the God of War’s name. Here it was, the famous wrath, no longer contained, but shooting from Mo Yuan’s eyes, transforming his features into something resembling the sky before a massive Celestial Lightning storm.

But Ye Hua had been hit by lightning of this kind. He had survived it. He could survive this as well. He planted his heels a bit firmer onto the ground and lifted his chin.

“I will not let you go,” he declared defiantly.

For a moment, it looked like his brother might attack him. Something terrible and murderous entered his eyes and commanded his body to tense and coil. A golden shimmer raced from his head down to his toes and Mo Yuan growled… instantly raising all the hair on Ye Hua’s body.

But the moment passed, the feral sheen in Mo Yuan’s eyes gave way to the black they usually held.

“How dare you,” the God of War said, the tone of his voice a warning to better step aside and run.

“With all due respect, Da-Ge,” Ye Hua retorted, “sit down. You and I will discuss what to do next. While drinking tea.”

There was a small sound behind him and Ye Hua tensed, but it was only Zhe Yan entering the room, brave or foolish, he wasn’t sure.

“Mo Yuan,” the Phoenix said calmly, “do what your brother says. Sit down. I have two letters for you.”

“You,” Mo Yuan growled at him, “you better stay away from me for a while, High God.”

“Oh, I am more than ready to go on holidays, you won’t see me for a long time,” Zhe Yan replied lightly, “but only after making sure you are fine and won’t stumble into the next calamity. Here.”

Foolish and very brave, Ye Hua concluded, watching how the Phoenix walked towards Mo Yuan and handed him two letters, first the one, then the other. The Phoenix held Mo Yuan’s gaze as he did it. The two men stared at each other in intense silence for a while.

“Why did you rob me of the chance to protect my family,” Mo Yuan accused him, “why did you let her go? I cannot lose her again.”

“Donghua went with her,” Zhe Yan replied, “she’s probably much safer than the rest of us. Why don’t you read the letters first before you glare at me like this? You’ll only feel sorry afterwards for being so rude.”

Scowling, Mo Yuan looked at the slips of paper in his hand and then unfolded the first. It had to be a short message because only moments later, he also read the second. His scowl deepened, but some of the tension left the room.

“Good,” Zhe Yan sighed, “now drink what your brother has prepared for you. And no, I will not promise to never do again what I did. Unless you become reasonable in the meantime. Your children won’t be happy if all they get to see is their father’s grave.”

His brother’s eyes met Ye Hua’s. Again, there was pain there, but of a different kind. Remembrance… of the time when I was gone, Ye Hua realized. Bai Qian has told me of your grief. Do you understand? Do not make us grieve for you. Let it end, this cycle of death and sacrifice.

Ye Hua stepped closer and handed Mo Yuan the goblet with a small bow. The God of War took it and downed its content in one go.

Come now,” Zhe Yan said, “Fengjiu will serve some tea. And there are guests eager to see you. Put away your angry face, you’ll scare them.”

“Da-Ge,” Ye Hua said cautiously, “you must teach me how to deal with Demons. Are they deliberately rude to discomfort me? I feel like all the etiquette I have been trained to use is a weakness to them.”

Mo Yuan nodded slowly. “Yes,” he said, “I will teach you.”

“Thank you, Da-Ge,” Ye Hua bowed. He was hopeful.

“I have a plan,” Mo Yuan added, “for all three of our visitors. Can I borrow Si Ming for an errand, Dìdi?”

Hearing his brother call him that gave Ye Hua a warm, happy feeling inside. The crisis was over. For now. Many things remained unspoken, but there would come a time. Soon.

“Da-Ge, of course,” Ye Hua answered. “But will you please take me to see the person you have imprisoned with the Sea Cloud Bracelet?”

Mo Yuan’s eyes dropped to his wrist and the faint blue line there.

“Yes,” he said, “yes. I can use your help. It seems he is not at all whom I thought he was.”


“This is the most uncomfortable stake-out I’ve ever been on,” Shao Wan complained and tried to shift her weight to her other leg that wasn’t numb yet. Black, jagged rock was poking her from all sides. There wasn’t a spot on her backside that didn’t feel abused. At least it wasn’t raining.

“Yes, yes, I know, I know,” Donghua sighed, “Mo Yuan does it better.”

“He does!” Shao Wan agreed eagerly. “Even when we were much younger and clearly not half as skilled, I never felt uncomfortable with him on missions.”

Donghua sighed again. “Maybe it’s because you were less…. bulky?” he suggested.

“We lived in the mortal realm for a year!” she bristled. “We had a lot of hiding to do. I was bulky then too! But always comfortable.”

“Why did you not take him along then?” Donghua snorted and mumbled something about unfair comparisons as he poked a rock with his sword.

“You know as well as me that he has more important things to do,” Shao Wan waved aside his comment, trying to shift once again. “You just idle around all day like Zhe Yan. It’s good you get to do something useful thanks to me.”

“I don’t remember you being this insufferable in our youth,” Donghua commented sourly and brushed some dirt off his robe, “I always knew Mo Yuan had a lot of patience but my admiration for him is rising by the minute.”

“Are you insulting me?” Shao Wan asked with a frown and rolled her tense shoulders. “Just you wait. I haven’t forgiven you - supposedly my best friend! - for not recognizing me in my wrong body. A maid? I am still trying to decide which punishment is the most suitable for that affront.”

“I’m not insulting you,” Donghua shook his head. “But I’m beginning to think you are insulting me. Stop talking about him all the time. Don’t you remember how intimidated I was on that night before we both entered school? We drank together.”

Shao Wan wrinkled her forehead. “You were? No, I don’t remember. Whatever for? You were already known as the greatest fighter the Immortal world had ever seen. People were wrong about that, of course, they just didn’t know about me and Mo Yuan, but nobody ever dared bully you.”

Donghua sighed. “I barely knew how to read nor write. But I knew Fuxi’s son would be our classmate…”

“Ugh,” Shao Wan said and pulled a face. “Are you trying to tell me you were intimidated because of Mo Yuan’s fabled knowledge of philosophy, music, war strategy and arts? Just accept that he’s smarter and much more skilled than you, what’s the big deal? You won’t change that fact even if you mope about it.”

“You are an unkind person,” Donghua remarked sullenly.

“No point lying about obvious things,” Shao Wan shrugged.

Why did men always need to turn things into pointless competition? Every general knew, you didn’t win battles by going against your enemy’s strongest position. You won them by learning and exploiting his weaknesses.

That reminded her of something.

“Donghua,” Shao Wan said, “isn’t it recorded that Nüwa scattered when she gave up all her cultivation to prevent the Four Pillars of the Heavens from collapsing?”

Donghua looked at her with raised eyebrows. “And this is connected to our previous conversation how…?”

“You’re by far the best historian I know,” she smiled. “Mo Yuan knows only half as much as you.”

“Hmpf,” her silver haired friend made. Of course he knew flattery when it was delivered so clumsily, but Shao Wan knew him to be a vain person and even the most intelligent of the vain could not help but feel good when being praised.

“Yes,” Donghua said, “it is how she died.”

“Is this certain?”

Donghua frowned. “Is anything that is written down ever certain? I wasn’t there to witness it. In fact, I have never met Nüwa.”

Had she? Strangely enough, Shao Wan remembered someone she thought was Nüwa. An incredible beauty. Midnight blue hair down to her knees, golden skin, slanted, laughing eyes. A tall, graceful woman. She must have been very little when she met her.

“She gave birth to Mo Yuan and then died?” she asked. “And the twin died with her?”

Donghua shrugged. “I guess that’s how it came to pass. Wouldn’t you Demons know? She made you after all, they say. There must be stories.”

“Do you know… do you know who else made us?” There had to have been another primordial there. A yin and a yang was needed. Fuxi had been a source of very strong yin energy. Nüwa had been his yang compliment. Which yin had made the Demon Clan with her?

“Shennong?” Donghua suggested. “I can check for you once I’m back at Taichen Palace. But why this interest of yours?”

“I had a strange dream last night,” Shao Wan recalled. “It made me remember that I do not understand why the Soulswappers are so hellbent on bringing Nüwa back to the Realms.”

Donghua shrugged. “It’s not the first crazy Cult I’ve come across in my lifetime. They all want to do something completely insane. Don’t think too much about it.”

Shao Wan shook her head. “This is different. They are rather powerful. They do soulswaps and cultivation transfers without Fungal Grass. As if…” she paused to think about this. As if rules of this creation did not apply to them. Yet they were people born in this creation.

“Are you trying to tell me that after getting your Feather, we will go and meet these people?” Donghua snickered. “I cannot wait.”

“Ah, yes,” Shao Wan agreed, “I have questions for them. Can we hurry up a bit? I want my Feather back already. I’m so sick of being powerless.”

“Patience!” Donghua cautioned. “We cannot just walk into your palace. We need to make sure no enemy is in there.”

“Mo Yuan would…”

“If you mention him again,” Donghua said resolutely, “I will leave straight away.”

“You know about the tunnels too, don’t you? You came here to rescue h… him. I didn’t mention his name, this doesn’t count!” she added quickly. Truth be told, she was very glad Donghua was with her and she would hate to lose him.

Donghua sighed. “Yes, I know about the secret passages but I do not wish to walk in there with a pregnant woman and find myself surrounded by an enemy army.”

“As if I’m not capable of fighting anymore!”

Donghua shook his head at her. “I promised to keep you safe. You are not fighting. I’ll use a binding spell on you if you do not obey.”

“But M… he let me fight with him! We trained every day in the mortal realm!”

“I do not understand,” Donghua said. “Of all the women he could have had, he chose you.”

“What… what are you saying?” Shao Wan exclaimed.

“The most beautiful and gentle Celestial women. Fox Queens, even Ghost royalty. And yet, Fuxi’s son chose a… a….,” his eyes looked her up and down, “... a wild and foulmouthed Demon who drives every man insane.”

How dare he….? Shao Wan wanted to explode in rage when she caught the glimpse of amusement in her friend’s eye. Ah. Devious. He was trying to get back at her.

“It’s because he has good taste!” she smiled a toothy smile at the white-haired god and swallowed down her anger.

“You’ve changed,” he said, sounding impressed.

It was true, she had. Remembering what she had deliberately forgotten had changed her. There never had been any other for him that was a match for her - she knew this now. And even if there had been possibilities during her absence, these possibilities had not manifested into realities.

“When’s the wedding?” Donghua sneered. “It’s about time you made it official.”

Wedding? Shao Wan looked at the faint bond on her wrist, only visible because she knew it was there, and then turned her head towards her Palace, frowning. Good point. A wedding. No more beautiful and gentle Celestial women lusting after her man. No more Demon women talking about how to seduce the Taoist scholar from the mountain. Hers. Hers and hers alone.

She would have to tell Mo Yuan she wanted a wedding.

But she could not think about the details of such a huge undertaking any longer, because there was some movement in front of them in the plains. A large group of people with horses, headed towards her Palace.

Shao Wan squinted. Donghua’s magic afforded them complete invisibility, but it did not hinder her view. She knew the man riding in front. It was Shǒu. The Leader of the Demon Rebels.

She got up with a groan and stepped forward, so quickly that Donghua had no chance to stop her.

Chapter 52