Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 64a (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 64a

written by kakashi
edited by LigayaCroft&Panda

I can’t breathe.

A tremendous weight pressed down on Mo Yuan. It took all his strength and will to remain standing upright.

My knees will not buckle.

Mo Yuan gritted his teeth as he dragged himself forward, straightening each part of his body with a deliberate effort. His straight spine a challenge to everyone expecting weakness. Stubbornness alone had never been enough for victory though - unless both you and your enemy were reduced to barely nothing and it came down to who could hang on to life a fraction longer. But there was no enemy here, only a cold darkness in which not even the faintest glimmer of light remained, where hopes were crushed before they could manifest. Still...

I will not bend.

He did not want to be in this place. He needed to find an opening, a door, he had gotten in here, so there had to be a way out. But he could not summon his powers, it was like his fingers weren't his own and he had no names for his spells anymore.

Think. Think!

He realized he was clutching something hard in each hand. He lifted the items to his face, touched them against his cheeks. The irregular surface was polished, but barely hiding the roughness underneath. The scent of forest and sunshine. Wooden figurines? Ancient magic, anchoring himself to living souls in the world.

You must remember.

Somebody’s rage began to assault him like a battering ram. Mo Yuan staggered again, but he would not fall. There was the muffled noise of somebody screaming profanities and threats far away. So there was an enemy after all? Mo Yuan welcomed it. He knew how to deal with enemies, particularly those who hated him, because they made mistakes he had always known to use to his benefit.

Human, wake up!

“Golden Dragon?” initial surprise on hearing is True Form’s voice gave way to delight. He didn’t remember how he had gotten here, but he was very glad his Animal Form was awake too. Two was better than one and Golden Dragon’s brute force had often served him wonders.

Human, come out!

Out? Where to? Mo Yuan turned on his own axis. “Golden Dragon! Is this a dream? Where am I?

Mind chamber! You must free me from mine!

‘I am hiding deliberately!’ Mo Yuan realized. ‘The enemy doesn’t know where I am. But where is my body?’

For a short, discomforting moment, Mo Yuan experienced a complete destabilization of time, not remembering a thing about his life with certainty. Was he perhaps dead? Scattered again in the Nothingness?

The absolute darkness always beckoned.

Is it time to go?

The thought seemed wrong. Before he could ponder it further, somebody grabbed his hand and held on tightly. One large and two little hands held on to a finger each, though the little ones were more like the caress of ghost fingers.

“Mo Yuan! I really, really need you!”

A woman? Was it... It was ... It took him a few seconds to remember the caller’s name. But after that, he remembered everything in one big dizzying rush.

It robbed his breath away what they were attempting to do. Insane. Risky. A fool’s plan. His.

“Shao Wan! Did it work?”

He had sealed this chamber himself. He was the one in command here. His heart beating much too rapidly, he finally found the wall - it had always been right there, waiting for fingers to believe they could touch it. Of course it wasn’t pitch black in here, it looked like his meditation chamber at Kunlun to eyes that believed they could see.

“Come, please come!” her urgency was tinged with panic. Her he couldn’t see, but she pulled at him forcefully.

“Shao Wan, are you in trouble? Wait… I am coming! As fast as I can.”

With the help of Golden Dragon’s unleashed wrath, Mo Yuan stuffed the Passenger into a prison room with one-hundred locks. It was much too close a call, it took them such a tremendous effort to subdue the Parasite, they were all but done for afterwards. Puffing and huffing, Golden Dragon positioned himself in front of the prison cell and put his head on his paws.

“You go, human,“ he rumbled, his large eyes falling shut. “Fenghuang is anxious.“

Shaking all over from exhaustion, Mo Yuan forced himself to the surface and opened his eyes.

He saw everything through a golden haze, a sign that his True Form was close to the surface. At this moment, he had neither the power nor the will to suppress it further. Mo Yuan found himself in a crammed chamber full of eerie, humming power utensils, making his hair want to stand on edge. Some of it had come undone, tickling his face. He suppressed the impulse to bind it more neatly and tried instead to get his shaking hands under control. He knew by virtue of having its inventor’s spirit inside of him, he was in the Demon Tower, Demon energy was so thick it felt like burning liquid in his throat.

His own powers… extremely sluggish to respond. Depleted? But… how was that possible?

Give it time, they will return.

Shao Wan, a trembling Fong Hung beside her, was pointing Xuan Yuan at him. The sword had called to him, had jolted him out of his slumber. It was shining like a beacon, reacting forcefully to the Demon energy by shivering violently. It looked like it was hurting Shao Wan. His next impulse was to take it from her hands, but he knew he couldn’t.

When their eyes met, he saw relief in hers - but that was not all. Were things not going as planned?

“Shao Wan,” he said, fighting to clear his mind of the lingering confusion, “what is wrong?”

“N… nothing,” she replied through gritted teeth. “Just… hurry…”

When overwhelmed by a situation with too many moving parts, break apart the problem and approach each issue step-by-step, Mo Yuan usually taught his disciples.

Step one, get full situational awareness.

Two Soulswappers were staring at him from across the room, their eyes hooded in shadows. One was Tian Gu’s mother, the other Yu Dian’s sister. Both their powers were severely diminished, he saw the remnants hanging in the air like gossamer, connecting the two women to the glowing mirror in his hand. He was holding the mirror with one and a thread of soul fragments in the other. It seemed that Qing Quan had almost managed to collect all the missing pieces of his soul – Shao Wan had summoned Xuan Yuan not a second too late.

So far so good. Step two, remove all the immediate threats as soon as you can.

This chamber looked unstable at best and was a dangerous trap if the enemy chose to attack. Had Tian Gu arrived with her troops to secure the outside as planned? His ears tried to pick up the sounds of a battle, but the noise of the Engineer’s power boxes drowned out everything.

“Can you make sure they do not move against us?” Mo Yuan asked Fong Hung, indicating the Soulswappers with his head. Shao Wan’s former mount nodded and positioned himself between Mo Yuan and the Cult’s leaders, his sword drawn and ready. Now they would think twice about acting rashly.

Very carefully, Mo Yuan pulled the rest of the thread out of the Nothingness and, fighting his extreme revulsion, put it into his mouth to swallow it.

Step three, start next phase of the plan.

“Come over here, please,” he said to Shao Wan, finding the impulse to retch almost overpowering. The thread felt stuck in his throat even though it had no real substance, a foreign object jamming up his air supply.

She stepped closer, eyeing him warily. He fought another impulse, this time to press his lips against hers and forget everything else. He couldn’t do that, not before he had returned to her everything he had taken. But why was there so much pain edged into her features? Mo Yuan handed her the Mirror, his hands still shaking so much he almost dropped it. She grabbed it with her right hand, not letting go of Xuan Yuan with her left.

“Can you see them?” he asked her. The sword pulled at his senses, it did not want to be held by someone other than him. He found it hard to keep his thoughts steady, to recollect what he knew. Flask. Feather. Bai Qian. Yu Dian. The Mirror. Her whip. Xuan Yuan.

“I see them!” she said, peering into the artefact, excitement chasing away the weariness in her voice for a moment.

“I tried to weave them together,” Mo Yuan said, “in all your dreams, I attached threads to the fragments of your soul that I could find. If you can only get a hold of just one…”

“I… I will try,” Shao Wan gasped, sounding like something was assaulting her.

Mo Yuan extended his hand to put it on her head. As soon as it made contact with her, it was like all the strength left her body.

“Can you... help me?“ she asked, sounding utterly miserable. “I... feel...“

“Did you get hurt somewhere?“ Mo Yuan asked in alarm, checking her body for signs of a wound again.

Shao Wan shook her head. Sweat was trickling down her face as she squinted at the mirror. Quickly, he checked whether she was wearing her Feather. She was. And the flask? There, at her belt.

“You might have to reach into the Mirror,“ he urged her, ”let me see!“

Moving his face closer to hers, he looked into the mirror with her. Glimmering soul particles. Thousands. Millions. But which ones were hers?

“You said not to let go of the sword... at any cost,“ she gasped. “Can you hold the mirror for m…. ahhhhh...,“ she whimpered pitifully, hunching forward in pain.

It hit him then what it meant. Having the earth pulled away under his feet would probably have felt the same.

“Shao Wan, don’t tell me... are the children...?“

Of all possible times...? Why could Shao Wan not once be spared such trials?

She only nodded with her eyes closed, her breath coming in short gasps.

“They want to meet you very much,” she whimpered, “I told them to wait, but just like you, they do not listen to me.”

When they had stayed in the mortal world together, Mo Yuan had read a lot of books about pregnancy and childbirth. He had also read about a lot of very gruesome deaths. Sure, those poor women that had bled to death were mortals, but even female immortals were greatly challenged during delivery, he knew that much. Their powers became uncontrollable at times, threatening the lives of themselves, the babies and everybody around them.

Step-by-step? What step came after this?

The step where you stay calm, Mo Yuan.

Had he a way to call Zhe Yan here? No. The Demon Realm was far from the Peach Grove. He had lost the copper coin Donghua had fashioned to alert his friends. His powers were basically useless right now. Shao Wan looked more weakened and panicked by the minute. There were two mortal enemies with them in the room and one loose inside of him, probably only waiting for him to let his guard down.

“You must find a comfortable position,” he told Shao Wan. “Try to breathe more deeply. How… how long ago did the contractions start? How fast are they coming?“

“It hurts all the time,” she pressed out, “as if it is going to rip me apart. I should have laid eggs when I had the chance goddammit!”

By no means at the very beginning then. By the Old Ones, did he have to deliver his own children?

Shao Wan sat down abruptly, still clutching the Mirror in one hand and the Sword in the other. Mo Yuan stared at his shaking hands, willing them to perform magic, to help her, but it was useless. His plan was not going to work, he had to completely abandon it. Any plan was useless. His children were coming. Nothing else was important.

“You!“ he commanded Ling Dao, “come here and help. Bring something soft for the Demon Ancestor to rest on!“

Before he could add something threatening to make her comply, the Soulswapper had already moved. Fong Hung held his sword up, but Ling Dao did not seem to be plotting anything. Her brows knitted together when she stared at Shao Wan’s agonized face.

“I have never delivered a child,” she admitted. She threw a questioning look at her second in command, who was staring at them like they had all gone mad.

“Me?“ Yu Fen laughed in disbelief. “Babies? I have not the slightest idea, Cult Leader. I’m not even interested in how they are made!”

“I’ve seen Horses give birth,“ Ling Dao mused, throwing Mo Yuan a troubled look. She was probably in doubt whether Qing Quan was still there to mistreat her. Let her believe he was if that kept her docile.

“The Fox Woman is holding hands with her kid-husband out there,” Shao Wan pressed out, “please fetch her, Mo Yuan.”

Her kid-husb…?

“Don’t tell me even she was fooled?” Mo Yuan groaned. Impossible!

“I want the Fox Woman to be here,” Shao Wan insisted tearfully.

Leave Shao Wan here with these people while he went out to look for Bai Qian? Mo Yuan let his eyes sweep over everybody present not knowing what to do. It had been millennia since he had last felt this way and he definitely did not like it.

“I will go fetch her,” Yu Fen volunteered quite unexpectedly. “I’d side with anyone to vanquish that Demon Engineer scum, Celestial” she spat. “Just make sure he suffers,” she added. “Gruesomely.”

It seemed like Ling Dao wanted to react, but had no strength for anything anymore. She took off her outer gown to put it on the floor, with Mo Yuan immediately following suit by taking his outer robe off. That would do little to comfort Shao Wan though. It would be best if Shao Wan could lean against something.

Or someone.

“Fong Hung?” Mo Yuan asked, indicating to the mount to seat himself behind her. He would have preferred to be the one to lend this support but he was needed to deliver the children, however clueless he was about this.

Fong Hung didn’t hesitate, awe and something that looked like pride chasing each other on his face and he lowered himself down.

“Demon Ancestor, I am here,” he said to his former Master when he pulled her against his chest, “it's been so long! Never once have I forgotten you.”

“Remember how I always promised to be there for your little tadpoles?” she laughed breathlessly. “Where are they, Fong Hung? I want to be able to keep my promise.”

“I want you to meet someone, Demon Ancestor,” the Mount said and blushed. “After this is over. She is… too wonderful.”

“You left me and fell in love?” Shao Wan said and her voice quivered a little, “I am so proud of you.”

She looked up at Fong Hung’s face tenderly.

“And now you don’t need me anymore.”

Next, they had to undress Shao Wan. Kneeling down next to her, Mo Yuan loosened her gown, then moved his hands underneath her robes to find the straps of her trousers.

“I will undress you,” he told her, “just the underpants, will you allow me?”

“What do I care,” Shao Wan whimpered. “Just help me!”

After removing the pants and covering her nakedness up again with her robe, Mo Yuan put his hands on her belly and gently but somewhat clumsily began to massage it, moving his hands down her legs and then to her arms. It seemed to give her some comfort.

“Remember my lessons at Kunlun?” he asked, feeling breathless himself and increasingly light-headed, “remember how I taught you to control your powers by regulating your breathing?”

“But I don’t want to breathe deeply!” she complained, “I want this pain to stop! Take it away!”

“Demon Ancestor, but it is what everybody says,” Fong Hung came to Mo Yuan’s help. “You must try and breathe deeply.”

“To hell with breathing, I hate it,” she snorted but soon after, she tried to breathe more regularly, from time to time balling her fists with Mirror and Sword in them.

“I will never let you near me again,” she told Mo Yuan between sucking in air and blowing it out again, “I will become a monk.”

“I understand,” Mo Yuan said quickly, “anything you decide will be fine.”

“Should have killed you when I had the chance!”

“I'm not that easily killed, Shao Wan.”

“Don't talk back to me!” she moaned, “of course I don't mean it! I want you next to me! I want you to be Demon Overlord with me!”

Hasty steps from the stairwell made him turn his head before he could give a reply. It was Seventeenth, he saw with some relief, the Jade Kunlun Fan ready and open before her, her hair in some disarray, but otherwise fine. Yu Fen came back in behind him which put him on edge.

“Shifu!” Bai Qian exclaimed, her eyes wild and challenging, “is that you?”

“Yes, Seventeenth,” he nodded. “I have the Intruder under control.” I hope.

“Fox Queen!” Shao Wan whimpered, “please come and help me. This is much worse than I expected. I tried to transform but I can’t. Please tell me what to do!”

“With all due respect, Shifu,” Bai Qian whispered to him sharply as she knealt down opposite of him and put her hand on top of Shao Wan’s to press it, “this has to be the most irresponsible thing anyone has ever done. Dragging such a highly pregnant woman into a battle situation? What were you thinking!”

She was right, of course. He had no excuse and yet, they had been out of other options. Or was he just telling himself that for his own peace of mind? All his life, he had been sure he could control every situation and solve every problem. Maybe it had always been a lie?

“You don’t look well, Shifu,” Bai Qian added a bit milder and with a somewhat concerned glance in his direction, “are you sure you’re alright?”

He was sweating. There was a mess in his head and chaos all around. And he was scared. Everything was slipping, the whole world was unstable.

And inside of him, a presence was gaining more power. A soul that found itself whole again.

“I can’t use my powers,” he told his former disciple and sister-in-law, which was the truth, but not why he was coming apart. “And I’m…”

He couldn’t say it. Laughable. What did his pride matter here?

“It will be alright,” Bai Qian said and smiled a little, “Shifu, your babies are coming! Don’t worry, we’ve got this.”

“Did Tian Gu arrive in time?” he asked his former disciple because thinking of war and strategy was much easier than of what could go wrong in the next few hours.

Bai Qian nodded. “The situation outside is under control,” she said. “And Ye Hua…”

“... is still in the mortal world, I hope you realized?” he whispered.

Bai Qian nodded again. “I did, though late. I even cursed you, thinking your plan had failed! We’ll take the captured boy to the Heavens and will give him the Water of Oblivion before sending him back to his world. Luckily, he’s fine.”

Shao Wan suddenly moaned loudly and pressed her eyes shut.

Mo Yuan’s heart wanted to drop out of his body. Could it get any worse?

“Demon Ancestor,” Bai Qian told her in a calm voice. “You must try to relax and save your strength. The contractions will get stronger and soon, you will feel the urge to press.”

“Can I press now?” Shao Wan whimpered. “I want it to be over.”

“I wish I could help you, I wish there were doctors to make this pass more quickly, Demon Ancestor,” Bai Qian said with sympathy. “But it’s the one thing even immortals cannot control, not even with all the magic and all the powers we possess. It’s when we are as powerless as mortals. At the mercy of nature and the forces it commands.”

Staring at the mother of his children and her pain, Mo Yuan wanted to make it alright for her, with all his might. Powerless. Maybe this was why he was so scared?

Being at the mercy of anything. Powerless. Everything could go wrong. Everything.

Chapter 64b