Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 60 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 60

written by kakashi
edited by LigayaCroft & Panda

“Gone? What do you mean he’s gone?”

“The God of War is no longer here in this town, Crown Princess,” the ex-Celestial now-Demon woman explained. She was pale and shaking like a leaf in the wind, Shao Wan wasn’t sure whether from excitement, fear, exhaustion or all of them.

“The toilet break,” Shao Wan said sourly and kicked a broken stone pillar, though not too hard since she didn’t want to hurt her toes.

The Crown Princess pressed her lips together and glared at the two battle-marked demons before her even more angrily than before. But it wasn’t their fault of course - it was Shao Wan’s. The toilet break she had needed before leaving the immortal world had cost them an hour or more down here, Shao Wan calculated. Enough time for someone like the God of War to demolish parts of a mortal town and be gone without leaving a trace.

He had fallen into the Soulswappers’ hands, Yu Dian had explained. Deliberately, but making it seem like he put up a massive fight, which had involved wounds, though nothing too bad. He was who he was and it was probably why she had fallen in love with him, but Mo Yuan sure had an annoying tendency to make her worry a lot. If only she could have full and unwavering confidence in his abilities... Instead, she could never quite forget what she had so often dreamt about: Mo Yuan dead, his heart pierced by her sword.

“Did he leave a message for me at least?” she asked and sat down on the steps to some run-down house, feeling a bit faint after all the excitement, arranging the folds of her gown into regular patterns around her legs. She found this activity to be soothing. She had strong urges to put things into order recently and she got very restless if she didn’t indulge.

“Yes, Demon Ancestor,” the Green Lord bowed. “But let me first express my happiness to see you so well, with your powers restored.”

Ah, here was a man who knew how to talk to women, Shao Wan thought. She had pondered the issue of advisors, bodyguards and staff recently. Fong Hung would be her Head of Household. Yue was set to be Head of Guards and she would ask Yi Mei Niang for the rest of his brothers to be her bodyguards. This man now… Shao Wan cocked her head to look at the Demon Lord more thoroughly. The Purple Queen swore by him. He was quite certainly very smart, and seemed loyal and capable. He also was the son of somebody she had cherished a lot.

And he was exceptionally handsome. That never hurt. In fact, since she expected to spend a lot of time with this man, it was a particular asset.

“You,” she addressed Yu Dian, pointing a finger at him for emphasis, “I am choosing you to be my chief advisor.”

The Green Demon Lord’s face lost all color only to then return in excess.

“I… what… honor so great…,” he stammered, throwing himself down into the dirt before her with a flourish. Yes, she was content with her choice. They would get along perfectly fine.

“But Demon Ancestor,” the ex-Celestial woman piped up, “we promised the God of War to stay here and watch over his brother. Yu Dian cannot leave yet.”

“Oh?” Shao Wan scoffed. “Says who? You’re my subjects. The God of War has no authority in Demon matters. In fact, the only thing he has authority over is his Mountain that he left behind unprotected, the fool.”

Jie Jing gaped at her respectless words, which satisfied Shao Wan quite a bit. As had the report that Mo Yuan had been visibly taken aback by the Celestial woman’s change of clan affiliation. Celestials would always be Celestials, thinking they were the only worthy clan in all the realms. If they heard about this, they would riot! She would gladly open up her birth cave for those willing to transform. Of course, she would charge a nice sum depending on the level of affluence of the candidates.

“It’s fine,” she said, feeling a bit mollified, “you can stay and watch his little brother… the Celestial Crown Prince,” she quickly corrected herself after receiving a dark look from the Fox, “for however long it takes. But after that, I want both of you to report back to me first.”

“Yes, Demon Ancestor,” both of them bowed.

“Now what’s the message,” she demanded to know.

Yu Dian cleared his throat. “Demon Ancestor,” he began to recite, changing his tone a little to resemble Mo Yuan’s, “I will meet you at the Lost Demon Tower four immortal days from now. Please do not interfere with my plans before that. I repeat: Do. Not. Interfere. If it so pleases her, ask my sister-in-law to go with you as she carries something that is yours and you carry something that is hers.”

Shao Wan frowned at him after he fell silent, swallowing down her disappointment. “That is it?”

Yu Dian nodded gravely. “Yes, my Queen. I am sorry. We did not have a lot of time. He particularly stressed that middle bit.”

Of course he had. She was tempted to do the opposite of what he wanted of her just to spite him, but she had her current “condition” to consider, as she grudgingly had to admit, a condition that made her immobile on the one hand and potentially lethal on the other. She may have gotten a fraction of her powers back but she wasn’t naive enough to think the threat of falling into the Demon Madness had gone away.

“You know where that Demon Tower is?” Bai Qian asked. “Of course I will join you.”

Shao Wan nodded. “Yes, I know it well.” What a fitting place for a showdown. Mo Yuan always had an eye for choosing his battlegrounds well.

Shao Wan turned her head a bit to have a look around. It was strange how familiar this run down town seemed to her. Four immortal days?

“Fox Queen. Didn’t we see a teahouse on our way through town?”

Bai Qian looked at her with doubt. “I don’t think so.”

Then why did she have this very clear impression of one? Shao Wan did not like the strange sense of deja-vu that came over her all of a sudden.

“I didn’t come all this way to leave without a bit of entertainment,” she scoffed. “Four immortal days is a long, long time down here.”

“Ancestor!” Bai Qian said round-eyed, “you have to return to the immortal plains to give birth! It is no light matter, especially with two! You need the best possible doctor near.”

Shao Wan waved the comment aside. “Of course I will return. My phoenix brother Zhe Yan promised me to be there to deliver them. I told them to stay inside at least until we have their father back in one piece and I think they agreed.”

There was no use in telling anybody how terrified she was of the whole matter. She had faced death and punishment before without batting an eyelid. Why should this be any different?

“All things considered,” she said and pushed herself up, “we still have ample time for a bit of entertainment.”

The town was obviously very poor, but from her experience, the poorer the towns, the more bawdy the entertainment. Nothing better than that to take your mind off your worries.

“Chief Advisor,” she addressed Yu Dian, “I understand you have been living here for quite some time? Would you mind pointing us in the direction of a teahouse? One in which we can see a mortal play, if possible!”

“Yes, my Queen,” he said, though he didn’t seem particularly happy about it. His eyes quickly darted over her round form, maybe to assess whether she was about to pop open.

“And I really want to see my husband,” Bai Qian added. “It’s why I came.”

“We can certainly lead you to him, Crown Princess,” Yu Dian said with another bow. “Now that the Cult thinks they’ve got his hands on him he will be safe…”

He had told them that the wrong information had been leaked to the Soulswappers so that the wrong boy had been targeted by them. Shao Wan could well imagine Mo Yuan’s face showing minuscule signs of smugness that his plan had gone so well.

“I will go ahead to the teahouse,” she nodded.

“I will accompany you,” Jie Jing offered. “There are a lot of beggars in this town.”

After a few words of parting and assurance to meet up again soon, they went into opposite directions in pairs of two.

As Shao Wan was walking along the main street, puzzling over the familiarity of it all, it suddenly hit her. She had indeed been here before.


As soon as the earthy scent of grass and grain of her homeland hit Tian Gu’s nose, her eyes filled with hot tears. She felt both deeply sad and extremely happy to be back here, the conflicting feelings painfully lumping together in her throat. How she had missed the rolling green pastures, the lush sparkling streams, the huge bell-shaped trees! She had not allowed herself to realize just how homesick she had been and now it hurt all the more.

“I’m back,” Tian Gu sobbed under her breath. “I’m back.”

But what a homecoming.

She urged the horse she had caught for herself down the path to the Palace. A bell on the watchtower began to clang when she was spotted, a lazy signal not conveying too much urgency because the Horse Tribe had little to fear from a lone rider in white. Demon War or not - nothing had changed here at all, she knew every one of the guards. It took awhile for them to recognize who she was though even when she waved to them.

Her Father came rushing out of the front gate just as she entered the courtyard. Tian Gu flew into his arms with such eagerness he almost toppled over.

“My daughter, my daughter, you are here,” he whispered into her hair, his arms pressing her to him with the strength she had almost admired. Tian Gu breathed in his signature scent of leather, horse, and spices, feeling like a child again, not ever wanting to leave the comfort of these arms.

“You have changed,” King Tian Su said after letting go of her and she heard the sadness in his voice even though he tried to hide it. “You are a woman with responsibilities now. I am honored you still remember where you once lived.”

“Who could ever forget a home like this?” she said, feeling how tears rushed into her eyes again. The lump grew bigger as she looked at his weather face with the fine lines around the eyes. A home like this… built on lies?

All her brothers were out or away. The eldest three had gotten married and were inhabiting lesser palaces throughout the lands, whereas the younger ones were inspecting new horses up North like it was custom this time of the year in order to bring back the finest to train as Celestial War Horses.

Her Father ordered the kitchens to cook her favorite dishes, all of it tasting strange and overly seasoned to her palate. Did it take only a hundred years to develop new tastes?

“Why have you come?” her Father asked after they had sipped their traditional hot sweetened tea from tiny cups and together had emptied the entire tray of sticky pastries. “Though I’d like to believe you were just missing me.”

Ah, her father had always been blunt and to the point. Given a choice, Tian Gu would have preferred to pretend she was just visiting. For another day. Another week. Maybe a month.

“I met Mother,” Tian Gu said, looking away because she could not bear to see his face crumble.

“Ah,” her father said.

And then, he fell silent. Tian Gu directed her eyes to his and found him studying her with an expression she couldn’t read at all. So he had known her mother was alive? It was what she had dreaded. Lies indeed. Where did they begin and where did they end?

“Yes, I knew,” her Father said bitterly, answering her unasked question as he swirled his empty cup between his hands. “But I prefer to pretend she is dead. I thought that if I try hard enough I would eventually be able to believe it. I almost managed.”

“She wrote a letter to me,” Tian Gu said, “even before the God of War came here. She said she was waiting for me. I thought… I thought she was just eager to see her daughter again. The daughter she abandoned. I was so eager… so eager…,” only to find someone who wanted to use her body to host a soul. A mother she had not known and never wanted to know.

Her Father turned several shades paler. Tian Gu wanted to be angry with him for lying about something of this magnitude, but how could she? She remembered one thing from her childhood really well: her father’s suffering after her mother’s “death”. It had almost destroyed him.

“How did this happen?” Tian Gu wanted to know. “How did Mother become the Head of Jiàopài Huàn Zong?”

“Do you expect me to have answers for you?” her Father pressed out, his eyes stormy. “It seems I never knew my Ling Dao… she is not who I thought she was.”

“But you must at least…”

Her Father pressed his lips together stubbornly and shook his head. “I know nothing. She lied to me. She abandoned me too, as soon as she had seen you, her only daughter, grow to a specific age.”

One daughter, her Wuwu had chuckled once, it is all that’s needed.

“The God of War is going to kill her,” saying it out loud only made her realize how true it was. “She left him with no choice.”

“It’s the Celestial High God who sends you here?”

Her Father sounded almost disdainful now.

“Yes, Father!” Tian Gu retorted, trying not to cry. “But even without his orders I’d do anything to stop the Soulswappers. What they are doing is wrong and dangerous. And the powers they have…”

“What does he want?”

“He is moving against the Cult and he demands the Horse Tribe’s help. No heavy cavalry, the Cult is not armed that way, but enough troops to assure a win. He says we owe it to the realms.”

Only because of Mother? I don’t think so, Tian Gu added in her head. We’re in so much trouble. He hasn’t told me because he cares for me.

“You will get your army, I will give the order to muster right now,” Tian Su said. “But you have to go see the Elders first. All I ever did was raise horses, I’m not interested in our Tribe’s secrets.”

Wuwu. With her, too, the God of War had a bone to pick. Maybe the even bigger one.

“Then I will leave for the caves now, Father,” Tian Gu said with a small shudder.

Her Father nodded, not looking at her.

“Father,” she said softly. “Father, I do not blame you. I just hope…”

But what was she hoping? There was no way back to those days before the sadness had come over their family. And there was no saying whether their family would be allowed to live in the future. Celestial laws were harsh. Her mother had committed crimes big enough to damn every one connected to her forever.


How many thousands of years would have passed down here? Shao Wan stood dumbfounded as she stared at the scenery around her. How was it possible it still looked almost the same? A place for trials. One of her countless mortal trials. An eternal hell hole frozen in time. Fate… what was she up to now?

“Ancestor,” Jie Jing said at her elbow, “are you alright?”

“We need to make a detour,” Shao Wan pressed out.

“Y… yes?” Jie Jing said nervously.

“There is no danger,” Shao Wan assured her. “Only Fate playing games with me.”

She found the house she had once lived in immediately. Well placed in town, not too far from the city center, not too big but with good feng shui. An old servant was sweeping the stairs outside and looked in her direction suspiciously. Well, she did make quite a spectacle, standing in the middle of the road, staring at this house as if she expected it to go up in flames any time soon.

“The Masters are out,” he said gruffly when she directed her steps towards him even before she could state her business.

“Good for them,” Shao Wan murmured. “I once lived here,” she explained, “I have only come for nostalgia‘s sake.”

The man’s frown deepened. “I have been here all my life,” he said, “I think I would remember a lady as beautiful as you.”

“You mistake my age,” Shao Wan smiled.

The servant grew pale and quickly formed a warding sign with his fingers. Did he think she was a ghost? Ah, but she kind of was, wasn’t she.

“Mortal, I mean you no harm,” she assured the man.

“Im… immortal,” the man stammered, “can I serve you some refreshments?”

The poor man obviously thought he had to ask her in, even in his Masters’ absence. Why not? Shao Wan was eager to see the house she had spent a mortal life in, as it happened to have been one of the less horrid ones.

“I will wait here,” Jie Jing said in a low voice, indicating a spot outside the gate.

The servant led Shao Wan to a room with a low table, busying himself with removing scrolls, muttering inaudible things under his breath before he scurried towards the kitchen. His Masters were obviously of the scholarly type - books and writing utensils dominated everything. This town wasn’t exactly a good place to go after the accumulation of knowledge, Shao Wan thought. The next town over, not even a day on horseback, was bigger and there was a bookshop.

She knew because that bookshop had been what had made this mortal life one of the less horrid ones.

As she was waiting for the tea, Shao Wan got a little curious and picked up one of the scrolls to peek at the contents.

It was a poem? “I want to be your love until the end of times, without break or decay. When the hills are all flat, the rivers all dry. When it thunders in winter, when it snows in summer, when heaven and earth mingle, not till then will I part from you.”

How sweet, Shao Wan thought. Clearly a young man’s fiery words of passion. She picked up a second scroll. The handwriting was different and… familiar. A small shudder travelled down Shao Wan’s spine. Mo Yuan’s.

The title was “A dragon soaring and a phoenix dancing”.

“There is a story told in this mortal world,” she read. “A dragon and a phoenix live on opposite sides of a magical river. Even though they see each other every morning, dragon and phoenix are not friends. This changes when one day an island arises out of the Celestial River. They meet on this island and while exploring it together discover a shiny pebble. The dragon washes it and the phoenix polishes it until it becomes a pearl. Its brilliant light and magical powers that help plants grow attracts the attention of the Heavens. That night, soldiers come down to steal it while the two are sleeping. The next morning, the dragon and phoenix search everywhere and eventually see their pearl shining in the sky. They fly up to retrieve it, but the pearl falls down and becomes a lake on the ground below. The dragon and the phoenix lie at opposite sides of the lake to guard it, and are still here today in the guise of Dragon Mountain and Phoenix Mountain. - I wonder. Why did they not lie down so that they could touch for all eternity? Is it our choices that keep us apart, not Fate?”

It was easy to blame Fate for everything indeed, Shao Wan thought a bit later after leaving the house. She had told the puzzled servant that only one of his Masters would return and would live in this house with her lady guard - whom she had ordered to stay behind and take some rest. The other Master had moved on, she had said… to make sure he and the Phoenix could rest while forever touching each other.

What she had actually come here for was not in the house anyway but to the side, where two majestic trees grew just outside the walls.

Shao Wan was surprised to see a little boy busying himself with digging a hole when she stepped around the corner.

“Hey,” she addressed him with a frown. “What do you think you’re doing?”

The boy shot up, eyeing her warily. The expression in his dark eyes was full of intelligence but the rags he was dressed in told her he was too poor to ever have a chance of getting an education.

“This tree belongs to nobody,” he said after she did not appear threatening to him.

“Hm, I guess you’re right,” she nodded. “But why are you digging?”

“I had a dream,” the boy said sullenly, looking at his bloodied hands.

“A dream of what?” Shao Wan wanted to know.

“Money,” the boy replied. “I dreamt about a colorful bird and she told me there was money here.”

That was completely accurate. She had hidden it here, as she had in every mortal world in case she was born in the same town twice… one never knew with fate.

“Have you had such dreams before?” she asked suspiciously, scanning the aura of the boy for signs of immortal powers. Nothing.

The boy shrugged. “Maybe,” he grumbled. “Yes, I have. But they do me no good, normally.”

“You may be blessed by the Gods,” Shao Wan smiled. “They have a strange sense of good and bad. Don’t even try to figure them out, it will only cause you a headache.”

“Is it a baby inside?” he wanted to know, looking at her swollen belly like there could be any doubt.

“Two babies,” she said and patted her stomach. “Did you little brat think I was this fat from eating?”

The boy shook his head. “No. I thought it might be something not belonging to this world.”

Shao Wan blinked in surprise. Then, she laughed.

“You know what,” she said, chuckling “You keep digging. But don’t spend the money on wine and women! Even if it was hard earned by me with lewd stories.”

“Lady, I’m just five years old!” the boy said with outrage.

But grave like an old man, she thought, turning away, stepping around the corner and directing her steps towards the tea house.

“Where have you been!” Bai Qian exclaimed, coming in her direction with large strides, a worried Yu Dian behind her, “we assumed the worst.”

“Just a small detour,” Shao Wan said, “for old times sake. I think I can make peace with a part of my past now.”

“Ah?” Bai Qian frowned. “Good.”

“Is that husband of yours well?”

“He wasn’t there,” Bai Qian sighed. “I guess Fate made sure I could not make any mistakes and mess with his trial.”

“It’s a harsh world down here,” Shao Wan mused, suddenly moved to link her arm with the Fox Queen’s. “But for those with dreams, it can turn out to be full of surprises. Your husband will be just fine.”

Of course it was only a figment of her imagination, but Shao Wan thought she could feel Fate’s warm smile on them as they walked together on the dusty road to go see a mortal play full of heartache and hope.

Chapter 61