Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 52 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 52

written by kakashi
edited by LigayaCroft&Panda

To Ye Hua, Fuxi was primarily one thing: an awe-inspiring Primordial from the dawn of time. He was a legend of yore, their Creator, blessed be, whose legacy they lived and breathed every day.

Learning about his true heritage had changed nothing about this. Fuxi may be his “father” by blood but he would always be the venerated Father Immortal to him first and foremost. Maybe that was the reason why Ye Hua had never asked Mo Yuan anything personal about his childhood, about growing up with the God who had created the Celestial Tribe.

Or maybe it was because the God of War had held a somewhat similar position in Ye Hua’s life. Mo Yuan was one of the oldest gods alive, a living legend people travelled far to see. Long before he had met him for the first time at Kunlun, Ye Hua had read his brother’s treatises on strategy, his multi-tome studies on weapons; had devoured his philosophical explanations, and marvelled at the depth of knowledge that had been committed to paper, the intellect that could cut through to thicket of difficult topics so elegantly.

But in contrast to Fuxi, Mo Yuan was still walking the realms. Ye Hua may still be feeling awe every time he was in his presence, but Mo Yuan was not just a removed God he had heard stories about. Being allowed to call him Da-Ge had changed their relationship. What he was feeling was still admiration, but one that was much more personal, veneration that was based on observation, not just theory, on knowing what his brother had done for him, that he owed his existence to him, his happiness, his everything.

And now, there was that name he had called him by the day before… Dìdi. It might have been a trifle thing for Mo Yuan, but it was not for Ye Hua. It gave Ye Hua a place in his brother’s life he had not felt he had before. It was full of warmth, that place that came with the name.


Was it not clearly an invitation to be the younger brother? To be someone who would go cry at his brother’s feet sometimes about the burdens that were piled on him higher and higher every day. About his fears that he would disappoint his grandfather’s hopes, would be a failure for his tribe. Or about how he only wanted Qian Qian to be happy, but knew the life in the Heavens was a burden for her?

Da-Ge, can I?

“Hold my hand,” Mo Yuan said and extended it towards him.

“What a touching display of brotherly love,” Zhe Yan quipped. He had come out to see them off, just like Fengjiu and Donghua Dijun’s well-mannered boy.

“Only the wearer of the bracelet controls the access to the prison,” Mo Yuan explained, still holding out his hand, “but I think… I hope I can smuggle him in this way.”

Ye Hua looked at his brother’s wrist. The bracelet was glowing more strongly now and a tendril of light had been growing out of it steadily since Mo Yuan had declared his intent to visit the prisoner. It snaked up into the air, disappearing somewhere in the clouds.

“This is safe, you say?” Zhe Yan asked Mo Yuan, putting his head as far back as he could.

“It was when my father showed it to me,” Mo Yuan nodded.

Zhe Yan squinted at the tendril of light. “It is extraordinary. You say you just follow this… tendril?”

Mo Yuan looked up too. “It is so.”

“Fuxi knew magick he never taught us,” Zhe Yan said a bit breathless.

Mo Yuan nodded again with emphasis.

“Then it’s goodbye,” Zhe Yan said. For all his previous nagging at Mo Yuan, he seemed rather sorry to have to part with them. “Make sure you both come back,” he added. “In one piece.”

Ye Hua did grasp his brother’s hand now. It was warm and a little rough, with the calluses of a person who used a sword every day. I wish for you to be able to put aside your sword and play the zither more often again, a thought came to Ye Hua. Sitting at Kunlun, sipping wine, talking about trifle things… he wished for it.

It was not an instant transportation to their destination, like Ye Had had expected. There was a pull, almost as if Mo Yuan had cloud jumped, but there were no clouds, no sky, there only was a brief dulling of his senses and then he found himself on a path bathed in dark blue light - a winding, narrow path that extended upwards as far as he could see. To the left and the right of them, there was nothing - an abyss of infinite proportions, darkness of the blackest black.

Mo Yuan let go of his hand. “Stay right behind me,” he said and started walking. Soon, the path widened a little, as if to accommodate them to walk next to each other.

“Where is this place?” Ye Hua asked, a bit disturbed by how his voice was swallowed up immediately by the blackness around them. He tried to probe its essence. He could not feel any of the energy patterns he was used to. It was … just empty. It was like they had walked into the Nothingness.

“Our father talked to me about a thin veil between this Creation and the Uncreated when he showed me the Bracelet for the first time. He never explained, but I think… it is possible we are outside the second creation here.”

Ye Hua couldn’t help it, he shuddered. When he had been dead, he had found himself in a similar place… he had believed he had been trapped in a bad dream at first. What laws governed here? Could they even use their powers? Cautiously, he tried to summon a flame to his hand. To his relief, it appeared, but it only burnt feebly, soon taking on a blue, unhealthy hue. He preferred to snuff it out rather than watch it die.

They walked in silence for a bit. I should ask him what I’ve wanted to ask him for a while, Ye Hua thought. He cannot walk away. And he cannot even get too angry, it’s too dangerous. One misstep…

“Da-Ge, may I ask you a question?”

“Yes, Ye Hua, of course.”

Not Dìdi anymore. Yes, Ye Hua realized with a pang, this High God was good at putting distances between himself and other people. It came with the kind of responsibilities they both had.

“Do you… begrudge me the decision to punish the person who used magic against Qian Qian?”

“I may have at first, but now, I do not,” Mo Yuan answered after some deliberation. “It is your duty to ensure the laws are upheld.”

“There’s still a decree.” If you do not deliver the culprit within 30 days for questioning and execution, we will take our own action.

He had not wanted to spread the word about his brother taking the punishment for the Demon Ancestor. There were already too many craven Celestials who spoke about the God of War behind his back when they thought nobody was listening. Demon Lover. But Ye Hua very much wanted to keep the Demons on a short leash. Scaring them into submission seemed like a good strategy. The decree would stay in place.

“You do what you must do,” Mo Yuan said without any emotion, his eyes firmly on the path.

“The Demon Essence inside Qian Qian is not from the Demon Ancestor.”

Mo Yuan nodded. “I am aware.”

“I will gladly execute that person.”

“It is part of the puzzle we need to solve,” Mo Yuan said somehow cryptically and fell silent once again.

“When will the Demon Ancestor take back her throne?” Ye Hua blurted out.

Mo Yuan turned his dark eyes on him, seemingly amused by the bluntness of the question.

His brother’s alliance with that woman was their biggest asset, Ye Hua had come to realize. With her on the throne, the mother of Fuxi’s grandchildren, the Demons would no longer be a danger to Celestial rule. Maybe it would be like Lian Song had told him repeatedly: the two tribes could mutually benefit from trade with each other. His Uncle had not stopped praising the things he had seen in the Demon Realm, to the point where Ye Hua had developed a reluctant wish to go see them for himself.

“I’m not privy to that information,” the God of War said with a small smile, “but I don’t expect her to drag her feet about it.”

And you? Will you return to Kunlun? Ye Hua wanted to ask, but couldn’t quite bring himself to. Truth was, he needed his brother there. He needed him as the Supreme Commander of the Celestial Forces, even if they entered a period of extended peace. But could he ask this of his brother now that he would have children of his own with the Demon Queen?

“Ye Hua,” Mo Yuan said, locking eyes with him, “I know I have not shared my plans with you.”

Indeed not. Never.

“I am not… used to it,” Mo Yuan continued. “My natural impulse is to keep everything to myself because I fear…”

Mo Yuan’s voice trailed off. Ye Hua had heard from Qian Qian what had happened before his brother’s sacrifice during the Ghost War. Tactical plans stolen by someone he had given refuge on his mountain out of kindness. Betrayal… Ye Hua himself certainly was no stranger to the fear of it.

“I understand,” he assured his Da-Ge, “but you should know you can trust me.”

Mo Yuan nodded. “I should. I am sorry,” he added softly.

More silence. I am sorry I wasn’t there when you needed someone to trust, Ye Hua thought sadly. But I will be there in the future.

The God of War took a deep breath. “You heard that Shao Wan fears she is afflicted with a strange malaise of her kind, that she may be plunged into madness…”

“We will prevent it,” Ye Hua busied himself to reply. And maybe it was groundless fears, he hoped.

“We will,” Mo Yuan agreed. “After the events in the Demon Realm, I have been trying to find out what happened to her soul. I have learnt some things… but other things I still am ignorant about.”

“Zhe Yan said you dreamwalked because of it. Da-Ge, that was foolish. We Celestials do not command those type of forces well.”

“I will admit to you that I underestimated the danger and the… effects of it,” his brother agreed. “I think however that with practice…”

“You will not do it again!” Ye Hua exclaimed appalled.

“Probably not,” Mo Yuan nodded. “I might write something about it though.”

“A warning, hopefully,” Ye Hua said resolutely. “Do not dabble with dark magic, Da-Ge, please.”

Mo Yuan shook his head. “Do not worry, Ye Hua. Though Zhe Yan seems to think I have lost my mind of late, I know exactly what I am doing. I can also sleep well again now that my disciple has removed all the Horse Tribe poison from my blood…”

Ye Hua had not known it had had an effect on his brother’s sleep. “Stay away from that Tribe from now on,” he said quite fiercely. “They are nothing but trouble. Finish teaching that Princess and then be done with them. They live so far away, we will never have to interact with them again.”

“Hm,” Mo Yuan said. “Hm.”

“Please explain, Da-Ge,” Ye Hua demanded, not happy about hearing the hesitation in his brother’s voice.

Mo Yuan slowed his steps and stood still. Ye Hua stopped too, confused at first, but when he lifted his head, he saw that a gate had appeared ahead of them, blue like the path, massive like a mountain. There were almost there. Hardly any time left to talk. And he had not even breached the really sensitive issues yet.

“I suspect Shao Wan’s troubles started when she transferred the souls of our children into an object before her sacrifice. She employed the help of Jiàopài Huàn Zong, the Soulswappers Cult to do it.”

Ye Hua gasped. Hearing it from his brother’s mouth was much more shocking than assuming something along these lines himself all this while.

“But Da-Ge… that is…”

“Forbidden magic?” Mo Yuan scoffed and continued walking. “Maybe it is. But I cannot condemn her for trying everything she could to save our children, Ye Hua. Maybe it’s why her soul was banished to the mortal realm. But we Celestials get one lifetime during our ascension trials. One. You know how many lives she had to endure there? Thousands. But instead of returning stronger than ever, she came back so weak she was on the brink of dying. Does that seem like justice to you?”

Ye Hua frowned. “Cultivating works different in the case of Demons, I think…”

“That is not the point,” his brother said sharply. “Fate is one thing, but I have reason to believe that somebody there, somebody present during that ritual made sure she would have to return to them if she ever made it back.”

What a statement! “You are saying it’s this Cult that is pulling strings in the dark?”

“It is what I am saying, Ye Hua,” Mo Yuan nodded. “And you know who is connected closely to that Cult?”

“Horse Tribe?”

“Indeed so,” Mo Yuan said, looking content his brother had concluded correctly. “And there is more. Look at the message Shao Wan left me.” He held out one of the slips of paper Zhe Yan had given him. Ye Hua took it eagerly and unrolled it. There were only a few words in an energetic handwriting: “Ask him about the Demon Tower.”

Demon Tower? Ye Hua looked up. One of Mo Yuan’s disciples had lost his life there, Ye Hua remembered, during the War. Most certainly one of the reasons why Mo Yuan had gone ahead with the Hundred Year Curse.

“What… does it mean?”

“It’s where she said she must go to find a remedy against the madness. And do you know what Soulswappers use during their rituals? They demand large amounts of energy.”

“I do not know, Da-Ge.”

“Devices developed in that Tower. Do you remember what our prisoner used up in the Heavens, that box that contained power? That was one of the devices. I have seen more of them.”

By now, Ye Hua’s head was reeling. Facing evil enemies was one thing, but facing evil enemies with weapons that surpassed their own, that was another.

“There is a connection between the Soulswappers and the Demon Tower,” his brother continued, “there are no records in the Celestial libraries about this place and very few mentions in Demon Tribe documents. But clearly, the prisoner seems to know about it.”

They had now arrived in front of the gigantic gate. Ye Hua felt a chill as he looked up at its enormous proportions and at the same time, excitement.

“What are we up against exactly, Da-Ge?”

“That is what I hope to find out today,” Mo Yuan said. “And I am certain that together with you, it will be easier.”


“Look who’s back in a double,” the Prisoner sneered at them after they had stepped through the gate onto a circular, white platform. It was not extensive, only about half the size of the Dragon Hall up in the Thirty Six Heavens. All around them was water, its surface so smooth it looked like a mirror. The sky that it reflected was so blue it almost hurt the eye, with white, fluffy clouds slowly drifting across. The chains with which the Prisoner’s hands were pulled upwards glowed in bright blue too. They came down from far above, as if the sky were a dome to tie them too, and disappeared into the ground after wrapping themselves tightly around the Prisoner’s feet a few times.

“We have come for answers,” Mo Yuan declared.

“Ah,” the Starlord Ying Ming chuckled, “I already told you the first time when I gave you that belt hook that answers come with a price. If you are not ready to pay...”

Ye Hua felt his anger surge. This was the man who had tried to make his brother fail his trial. This was the man who had helped that Yellow Demon Spawn poison the Heavens. This was the man who had attacked Qian Qian up in the Heavens. He wanted to make him pay for it.

Mo Yuan must have felt the tension in him, for he put a hand on his arm and pressed it.

“I have not had the pleasure yet,” Ying Ming said, “the Crown Prince of the Celestial Tribe, what an honor. But why so furious? It is not good to have a temper in your position, Crown Prince. Be more like your brother! Always calm and emotionless.”

The mocking voice was like a slap in the face, but Ye Hua took a deep breath to calm himself. They had come for answers. Punishment could be dealt out later.

“Much better,” the Prisoner quipped and then smiled broadly, focusing on Mo Yuan. “Did I not tell you you would be back soon, God of War? You thought I was just spouting nonsense, didn’t you. Have you realized yet that you need me?”

“What do you know of the Demon Tower?” Mo Yuan asked, cutting straight to the point.

The prisoner chuckled. “You are asking the right questions this time, God of War. And yet, you are clueless.”

“You think?” Mo Yuan threw back, “let’s see whether I’ve used my time well. I investigated. I am quite good at that, they say.”

There was an emotion flitting across the Prisoner’s face then, as briefly gone as it appeared. Hate. Strong hate. Good, he was much less collected than he wanted them to believe.

“Your association with the Demons started a very long time ago,” Mo Yuan began. “I remember seeing you during the Beast Festival in Demon Overlord Qing Jiang’s tent.”

“Ah, you remember that,” Ying Ming chuckled, “no small feat, considering the state you were in. Got a taste of Demon alright, didn’t you? Formed an addiction so strong you never got rid of it again.”

“I also went and looked at the records of all Starlords. So you grew up at Starlord school without parents. That must have been hard. The Celestial Heavens are not particularly kind towards orphans.”

Here it was again. Hate. Ye Hua nodded ever so lightly, a signal he and Mo Yuan had agreed on. He would watch, Mo Yuan would ask. If it’s a grudge, it must be old, Mo Yuan had told him.

“You’re a Demon halfling, are you not?”

It was almost too easy, Ye Hua thought, as he watched the sneer wipe off the Prisoner’s face.

“I am guessing your father was Qing Jiang’s brother, Qing Huan,” Mo Yuan continued, sounding like he was telling a pleasant little story. “I found out he made quite a name of himself back then. He seduced as many Celestial women as he could, thinking it hilarious to have Demon halflings walking around in the Heavens.”

“You know nothing,” Ying Ming pressed out. “Nothing.”

“Why you associated with Qing Jiang later, I don’t understand, however,” Mo Yuan said, ignoring the Starlord’s exclamation, “since it was him who killed your father, his own brother, on his ascent to power. But maybe… maybe you did not know? Maybe you thought… you thought you were a full-blooded Celestial.”

How do you interrogate prisoners? Ye Hua had asked his brother outside the gates, do you administer pain?

Many people do not mind bodily pain, Mo Yuan’s answer had been. But only a few can hold up when you deliver the pain of the heart.

Ying Ming called him a series of degrading names then, but Mo Yuan only smiled his most condescending smile.

“Don’t tell me you thought Fuxi was…? You could not have been that stupid, right?” He stepped a little closer to peer at Ying Ming’s red, hate filled face. “But you were. Ye Hua,” Mo Yuan turned his head and addressed him smiling, “he thought I was his brother. Half-brother. Like my Father would get weak for someone like his mother.”

You do not get to insult her,” the Prisoner pressed out dangerously.

His brother hesitated ever so slightly. So he did not know who Ying Ming’s mother had been, though it seemed there had been a connection. Given the circumstances, she could not have been anyone of high status, Ye Hua surmised, or Ying Ming would not have grown up without proper care. Maybe… a maid?

“Ah, but you’re wrong,” Ye Hua said, “see, the royal family gets to insult everyone. Especially the lowly.”

“She was not lowly!” Ying Ming shouted.

“Maids are lowly,” Ye Hua continued haughtily, “they have no faces to us, no personality. They can be replaced with one snap of the fingers. If that is not the definition of lowly, I don’t know what is.”

That he was obviously right about Ying Ming’s mother made it easier for Ye Hua to speak these harsh words. But his brother’s face did not reflect the same sentiments. His eyes had grown a fraction larger, as if he had just realized something discomforting.

“It is why you all deserve to die,” Ying Ming spat out, “each and every one of you is a cruel, emotionally deformed tyrant. Have you ever had a favorite maid, Crown Prince? One that took the role of your mother, one who nurtured you, kissed you, comforted you? I see from your face that you have. What happened to her? Let me guess. One day, she just wasn’t there. She disappeared forever. It is what they do up in the Heavens: You royals are reared to be leaders without a heart. You cannot be allowed to form any attachments. For a race so powerful, you fear weakness much too much.”

Mo Yuan seemed to have overcome his surprise by now, but even though he spoke coldly next, Ye Hua heard clearly that he was greatly affected.

“You hated your mother for using all her love on somebody else’s child: me. You hated your mother for not acknowledging you as her son, even though she would have been kicked out of the Heavens or worse. But when she died…”

Mo Yuan faltered.

The Prisoner’s eyes had filled with tears. “Do you remember the sound she made when the fourth bolt hit her instead of you? This high-pitched, terrified whimper before she turned to ash? Do you?”

“I do,” Mo Yuan admitted and let his head hang. “I do. She was… like a mother to me.”

Ying Ming howled in pain and rattled his chains afterwards, a rage rooted in the pain of the heart. Only a few can hold up when you deliver the pain of the heart. Only: the pain of the body is felt by one person only. The pain of the heart however… it is always shared.


They returned to Qing Qiu one sunny morning. Not many days had passed, but it seemed like an eternity to Ye Hua.

“I need to go somewhere.”

His brother looked anxious for his standards. Given the circumstances, it was not much of a mystery to Ye Hua that this “somewhere” was the Demon Realm and that the sentence should have been finished by adding “to see someone”.

It had not been overly long, a few days in the life of an immortal amounted to nothing, but Ye Hua missed his family too.

“I will see you after your trial... Dìdi,” Mo Yuan added. He stepped closer and extended his hand somehow tentatively, a small smile on his lips. His heart overflowing, Ye Hua closed the gap between them with one swift step and put his own arms firmly around his brother.

“Yes,” Ye Hua said, pressing his brother’s body towards his own, feeling the God of War’s strong arms wrapping around his body in turn. Only a moment it was, but Ye Hua felt that for all eternity, he would remember the comfort of his brother’s embrace, the certainty that the bond of family would endure and from hereon, would not ever be jeopardized.

But like the whisper of a ghost, the haunting memory of their conversation in the prison came back to him.

“What about a trade?”

“You are in no position for a trade.”

“You will be back again. And you will want to trade then.”

A face that said Starlord Ying Ming, but behind it, something more and something different… fleeting only, his imagination?

“Who are you really?” Mo Yuan had seen it to.

“The only person who knows how to save your
wife, Celestial. So you better do what I tell you to do.”

Chapter 53