Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 66b THE END (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 66b - The End

written by kakashi
edited by LigayaCroft & Panda

They managed to break Mo Yuan’s seal after more than an hour of laborious counterspells. Finally with an indignant creak, the door to the Elixir Room swung open, presenting Zhe Yan, Donghua, Bai Qian and a few of the Kunlun disciples with a destruction of such grand proportions, they froze in shock before the gasping and wailing began.

Bai Qian was one of the gaspers and her hand came up to clasp her mouth as her eyes grew large and round like saucers. Her Shifu and the Demon Ancestor stood slumped against each other in the middle of the scorched chamber. His head was on her shoulder and hers on his and it almost looked as if they were hugging like oblivious lovers, but one needn't be a medical expert to realize they had died in each other’s arms like this.

Tell me it’s not true.

There was not a sliver of life left in them. Bai Qian knew this immediately, even without checking. The soulless body of her Shifu drifting down from the sky… slowly, almost like a feather, as if weightless. That image would be forever edged into her memories, haunting her in her nightmares.

I never wanted to see you like this again. How can you do this to me? And to your children? They haven’t even gotten to know you yet!

“Oh no. Oh no. Oh no,” a very pale Zhe Yan repeated these words over and over as he staggered towards the two bodies, his unsteady feet kicking up grey ash that covered the floor like dirty snow. He circled them once and then stood still, obviously at a loss about what to do next.

“She’s holding Xuan Yuan,” Donghua observed drily from the door. Always the most cold-blooded among all the immortals, though Bai Qian could hear that even his voice shook.

The Demon Ancestor had stabbed her Shifu? With his Father’s sword? Had she gone completely mad now? She had clutched it in her hands during the entire journey to Kunlun and during birth. Bai Qian had not gotten around to asking her why.

Bai Qian felt horrified, then puzzled. There was no blood. And, even more importantly: “Sh… shouldn’t the sword come out of his back?” she asked. The blade was several feet long but there was no exit wound. As if her Shifu’s body absorbed the sword.

Zhe Yan stepped closer and bent down to get a better look at what the situation was between the two lifeless High Gods.

“Her hand is reaching into his body,” he declared with a visible shiver. “Up to her elbow.”

“Extraordinary,” Donghua exclaimed. “Did she think a sword alone would not do the trick?”

“She would never kill him,” Bai Qian exclaimed, “surely you must know this!”

“Ah, Xiaowu. You weren't there when we were young,” Zhe Yan said gravely.

“Killing each other is some kind of sport between them,” Donghua nodded.

“Throwing each other down the deepest crevices they could find, crawling back to school days later when we had all given up hope already…”

“The more blood they drew, the better they liked it. Hm, it is a very strange way to express your love now that I think about it.” Donghua frowned.

“It must be the Mirror!” Bai Qian exclaimed.

Of course! The mirror! The other things the Demon Ancestor had clutched as if her life depended on it. And maybe it did?

“The mirror?” Zhe Yan frowned and bent down again. “What magic is this supposed to be?”

“It’s a Demon artefact!” Bai Qian quickly explained and went on to describe what it looked like.

“Hm,” Donghua said. “The Demon Mirror of Souls? That would change this situation from extremely dire to mildly hopeful.”

“That’s it!” Bai Qian cried. “The Demon Mirror of Souls!”

“Are you sure? It’s been lost forever.”

“Yes, I’m absolutely sure! That Cult Leader talked about it. It seemed like that Cult used it for some of their practices?”

“Explains why it was missing,” Donghua shrugged.

“What does it do?” Bai Qian wanted to know, at the same time racking her brain as to whether that mirror had ever made an appearance in her studies or any other readings. This was a bit unlikely since she tended to read one thing only if possible: racy mortal plays and Mr. Mo stories. The latter were just too addicting.

“I have no clue,” Donghua shrugged and bent down himself, his long hair almost touching the floor.

“Did she stab him through the mirror?” Zhe Yan mused, sounding rather intrigued.

“It looks like it. But there’s no mirror,” Donghua said, straightening himself and swinging his hair back over his shoulders. “Only a black hole.”

“I’ve stayed away from Demon magic all my life!” Zhe Yan said with a small shudder, “I don’t understand it. Black holes usually don’t mean good things.”

“I’m guessing she went in to find him,” Donghua said gravely. “It could be a door to… that dimension.”

“You mean… hm. Hmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmm!” Zhe Yan harrumphed.

“What, what, what?” Bai Qian demanded to know, almost moved to stomping her foot in frustration at all the talk she didn’t understand. They made her feel like a child. But a Crown Princess didn't do such things so she just glared at them.

“Well,” Donghua said, “I’m just guessing. Fuxi created a veil between this Creation and the Uncreated. That prison Mo Yuan and your husband went to not long ago? It’s in there. It’s a strange place, the veil, an in-between place with a set of special rules.”

“Why a veil?” Bai Qian frowned.

Donghua shrugged. “He didn’t tell. Normal immortals don’t have access. Mo Yuan only had access that time thanks to the bracelet that his father made.”

“Some have guessed it’s for protection,” Zhe Yan added. “Well. That’s primarily Mo Yuan’s theory. He thinks his father might have been afraid of something out there - he claims Fuxi made a few cryptic remarks when he was little.”

“I would be lying if I said I understand,” Bai Qian sighed.

“Fuxi’s sword destroys primordial essence - it’s one of the most terrible weapons in existence. Mo Yuan always assumed that the sword throws life back into Hundun - into the Uncreated, the Nothingness. Hence, the sword knows a way how to traverse the veil. I’m guessing… I’m guessing Shao Wan went inside the sword dimension to bring back Mo Yuan’s soul.”

“Extraordinary!” Zhe Yan hit his hands against his thighs. “You have to give it to Mo Yuan, he is a brilliant strategist. His plans are much too complicated for me, but I am able to appreciate them from afar. Such high stakes!”

“It would also rid him of that Parasite,” Donghua nodded. “It is extraordinary indeed. Destroy that scum forever. Arrange for a pick-up out of there. He couldn’t have asked anyone more competent than our Mei Mei for that.”

And he’ll be able to free the fragments of her soul that Xuan Yuan claimed that time he stabbed her for real!”

“Should we take away that sword from him after they wake up, what do you think?” Donghua asked his friend. “It would prevent further difficulties, potentially.”

“Probably a good idea,” Zhe Yan nodded. “Let’s give him another weapon, something he can have fun with. Something broken he can fix and make better?”

“I’ll think of something!” Donghua said, sounding excited for his standards.

“She just gave birth,” Bai Qian sighed, feeling a wave of sympathy so strong, she almost wanted to step forward to hug the lifeless body of the woman in the middle of the chamber. “She must be so tired.”

“Our Mei Mei is strong!” Zhe Yan smiled. “But be assured once they’re back, I will give her the most thorough check up anybody has ever gotten - and then will make sure she doesn’t leave her bed for months.”

***

“In here?” Shao Wan frowned. The prospect of crawling into a dark hole on her only recently shrunk belly and hurting breasts did not intrigue her in the least.

“Yes,” the Guardian nodded. “I know it’s only a tiny opening, but I have not managed to create a bigger one in the millennia I’ve tried to get out of here. I don’t fit. You might.”

Shao Wan looked up at the towering woman. She barely reached the Guardian’s thigh at her current size, which could have been disturbing in any other setting, but here, in a place that seemed to exist outside time and space, with weirdly colored, slowly turning planets hanging over their heads, it was one of the less strange things.

“If I crawl in, I’ll find Mo Yuan?” she said doubtfully.

“I really hope so,” the Guardian sighed.

“And if not?”

“If not…”

Shao Wan didn’t like how the woman did not finish her sentence but merely pressed her lips together and frowned. So… death and destruction or worse? But what good did it do to hesitate, it wouldn’t change a thing.

“Fine,” she said, “I’ll go in. Any indication of what it might look like on the other side? If there is another side?”

“No,” the Guardian said gravely. “It’s different for everyone. It used to be a beautiful garden for me.”

“I like beautiful gardens,” Shao Wan nodded, thinking of the new one at her palace, “and I’m also getting very hungry. The excitement I’ve been through! I really can’t wait for this to be over. You know, I will not leave my bed for months!”

The Guardian smiled down at her with an amused twinkle in her eyes. Then she lifted her hand and ruffled Shao Wan’s hair as if she were a child. Shao Wan strangely liked the affectionate, motherly gesture and smiled back at the woman towering over her.

“Oh, wait!” The Guardian said urgently and lifted her hand off Shao Wan’s head to her hair to pull at it hard. “Here,” she then said, quickly forming some kind of ring, pressing it into Shao Wan’s outstretched hand, “without this you won’t get in. Don’t lose it.”

Shao Wan looked at the strange ethereal midnight blue shimmering material before slipping it onto a finger. “Thank you,” she said. “I will try to cherish it though it’s a little...”

“... flimsy,” the Guardian chuckled, “I know. My hair is very strong though, it will stick with you.”

Shao Wan nodded and then bent down to eye the hole that the Guardian had opened up for her.

“Right,” she sighed. “I’m going in. Would you like me to bring Mo Yuan here once I find him? He can tell you more about Fuxi than me, I really only met him a few times at school.”

“Yes,” the Guardian nodded, but it sounded a little evasive to Shao Wan, “that’s a good idea. I’ll be here. I always am.”

Lifting her hand into a greeting, Shao Wan went down on her knees and then on her belly to crawl in. Claustrophobia was not an option.

***

Mo Yuan carefully put the brush onto the dragon-shaped porcelain holder before lifting his hands to massage his temples and, when that didn’t help much, the pressure points along his eyebrows. He had developed a nasty headache again this afternoon. This was at least the third time in a row it plagued him and he probably would have to talk to his physician about a rebalancing elixir. After rolling his tense shoulders, he reached over to the tea cup on the little table to his right. He wanted to free his mouth of the unpleasant metallic taste that had developed there.

The tea was cold.

Surprised, Mo Yuan turned his head towards the window to check the light outside. How much time had passed? He had been working on a story he had heard not long ago - one which he had frankly become quite obsessed with.

Bending over his manuscript, Mo Yuan squinted at the drawing he had made to accompany the story. A Dragon and a Phoenix, flying in the sky together. He had spent a considerable amount of time drawing all the intricate details of the Phoenix’s feathers today but he was far from happy with it. It was like he knew just how beautiful she actually was, but he couldn’t get remotely close with his clumsy picture.

The story was sad in a way that touched his very core.

It was about a Phoenix who fell in love with a Dragon, but the Dragon was too haughty and did not consider the company of a Phoenix worth his time. She brought him presents from the Phoenix world, she plucked out her most beautiful feathers to lay them at his feet, she danced for him - yet he was not even ready to look at her. Heartbroken, the Phoenix started to wither away. She saw no point in life if she could not be with him. What she did not know was that there was a hundred-year spell on him that made him see everything that was beautiful as ugly and what already was ugly as even more ugly.

When the Dragon was finally free of the spell, the Phoenix had lost her beauty. Her feathers no longer shone in the colors of the rainbow. Her eyes were empty, her head hung listlessly. And yet, to the Dragon, who had only seen the most extreme ugliness for one hundred years, she was the most beautiful thing he had ever met. His heart hurt from seeing her so sad and he tried to cheer her up. He brought her precious things from the Dragon world, he ripped out his most beautiful scales and lay them at her feet, he danced for her - but the Phoenix turned him down again and again until the Dragon asked for a very last thing before promising to leave her life forever: To fly with her.

She granted his wish. They flew across the skies, not speaking a single word, visiting one world after another, until all their strength was spent. They crashed to the earth, as it happened in a vast field of snow, soon crawling close together because of the bone-piercing cold. Thus intertwined, they lay dying since they had overspent their powers. In their last moments together, they realized how much they loved each other - and strangely, it was enough. Their bodies turned into mountains, their tears into lakes and their love blessed the world for all eternity.

Part of his obsession, Mo Yuan realized as he studied his drawings one by one, came from the fact that he was certain that there was another story behind the story, one that he felt he could glean if only he tried a little harder, that he might even see if he managed to look behind the images.

A knock at the door made Mo Yuan look up. Indeed, a lot of time had passed, it seemed.

“Come on in,” he said, thinking briefly he wasn’t in a mood to train with his son, he never was, but he would humor him for an incense or so nonetheless because he had neglected the boy even more than usual over this Dragon Phoenix story.

But when the door was opened, it wasn’t the boy at all.

To Mo Yuan’s great surprise, it was a beautiful, tall woman in a dark robe- a somewhat wrinkled and dusty dress. Her long, midnight blue hair flowed like silk around her and her white, softly glowing skin reminded him of the moonlight on the snowy mountain tops. Her almond shaped eyes were fixed on him with something akin to annoyance. Her elegant but slightly pointy nose betrayed her difficult character, and at the same time perfected the harmony of her face. And her lips … his eyes flitted to her lips and away with difficulty because when had it become allowed to stare at a stranger’s lips?

“Nice beard,” she said and snickered.

His hand came up to stroke it by reflex but before he could reply - or make known his indignation because who had the gall to just walk in here without a greeting like this and behave like she was at home here? - she had taken several quick steps forward, her eyes glued to a point behind him.

Quite compulsively, he turned to look what it was that had caught her attention.

There was a large painting of Mount Kunlun covering the back wall of his study. He recalled that it had always been his favorite thing to look at but somehow, he had almost forgotten it was here of late. In the sky above the mountain, nine huge dragons frolicked without a care. They were playing with an egg that they threw to each other, their faces shining with happiness.

They should be a little careful with that egg, Mo Yuan thought with a frown. If they dropped it, it would shatter into a million pieces and that would be such a calamity.

“Extraordinary, are these your ancestors?” the woman had a really melodic voice, but what did she know of his ancestors?

“And you are…,” he said with an irritated frown though frankly, he was much more intrigued than irritated. She radiated power, but not Celestial power. Was it possible she was a Phoenix? A little breathless all of a sudden, Mo Yuan looked a little closer.

“Are you joking?” pulling over a cushion from the side, she sat down unceremoniously and not overly ladylike in front of his desk, “you know how tedious it was to find you? So many weird world constructs!”


“Should I call for tea?” he heard himself ask, not quite sure what to do about her weird rambling, “or… some peach wine?” The second seemed to be more appropriate for a woman like her and he thought he would call for the very expensive, almost translucent cups with the peach flower designs.

“We can drink all the peach wine we want once we’re back,” she sighed and began to arrange the folds of her robe around herself. “And I’m so hungry, I could eat an ox.”

Snacks, too then. Mo Yuan rang the little bell on his desk to get his servants’ attention. They were never near when you needed them, it was quite vexing.

“Luckily, it seems that the bond you made to tie our wrists together is still there, though only faintly. It was a little harder than you thought to get rid of me, hehe.”

Mo Yuan looked at his wrist, but of course, there was nothing there.

“You know what I realized….” the woman continued chatting, still arranging her robe, “when I made my whip, I sent a person here by accident. It was the most horrible water world that made you feel like you were drowning! But I actually managed to get him out. Not that he ever showed any gratitude for me efforts.”

She might be a madwoman, Mo Yuan mused, that would explain why she was talking about the strangest things. Suddenly, he felt an urge to step outside, but he suppressed it. He couldn’t leave, he was needed here.

There was a knock at the door and the woman in his study turned around to face the door.

“Father?” his son asked. “Permission to enter?”

“Come on in,” Mo Yuan said.

The door opened and the anxious face of a child appeared.

“Father, can I come in?” the boy said with a voice that slightly shook.

“Of course you can,” Mo Yuan said, “though I have a guest. Greet her.”

“A guest…?” the boy echoed and threw a frightened look at the woman who was scrutinizing him like she had never seen a child before.

“You can’t eat him,” Mo Yuan smiled at her, which was the strangest thing to say and yet it was very fitting.

“Hey, I got used to your plant food when we stayed in the mortal realm, though I wouldn’t mind some crane,” his guest said, baring her teeth.

“Father?” the boy asked, sounding a little bit whiny now. “Can we go train together?

“Yes, Mo Yuan, I will come train with you, as promised,” Mo Yuan answered and started to get up, feeling how stiff his legs had gotten from sitting for so long. Should he invite his guest to come with them?

“Don’t go with her, Father, she has a key,” his son lamented.

A… key? Mo Yuan lifted his eyebrows but before he could say anything, his guest began to make a strange noise.

“Do you…,” she hiccupped or rather - he realized she was laughing, “do you actually think you’re your own father? That’s... that’s… ye Heavens, I will be entertained by this for many years to come. His beard was much more regal!”

She wheezed and her face turned a little red, making Mo Yuan think it was the most adorable thing he had ever seen, even though adorable was probably not a good word for her because her beauty was awe-inspiring if anything, the kind that turned men into despairing poets.

“Let’s go, I will not tell anyone what your mind prison looked like. Unless you make me angry and then I will threaten to expose it to all our friends.”

Without further ado, she grabbed his hand and pulled him past his strangely translucent looking son, to step outside.

They were standing in a very long corridor. The light was low, the candles flickered nervously even though he felt no draft.

He was no longer alone.

Suddenly he knew this place for what it was. A mind construct. A prison. It was not real.

He felt sick for a moment and extremely dizzy, but the woman was pulling him forward resolutely through a door into a blackness that was half soothing, half frightening because it held the potential of many unborn worlds.

“It’s an incredible maze here,” she told him, “thousands, maybe millions of cells, but you know how we will find out? With this.”

She shook her hand in front of his face, what was he supposed to see? That strange shimmering ring?

Mo Yuan felt a little overwhelmed. And suddenly there was something in his throat, choking him and he began to retch and retch until it came up. It was a series of beads on a string. He stared at it and thought that the mad person here was likely him, not her. But the beads wanted to be somewhere else quite desperately, vibrating with an angry intensity, so he opened his fingers to let them go, watching them fly straight to the woman and disappear into her.

“Oh,” she said. “Oh. That’s what it feels like to be whole!”

And then she stepped up to him and kissed him. Deep within him, Golden Dragon raised his head from a very good sleep and growled in contentment and in anticipation.

“Fenghuang,” Mo Yuan whispered.

There indeed was another behind the story of the Dragon and the Phoenix. Now he saw it. It was his own story. Their story. A story full of hope.

They both extended their hands to each other at the exact same time.

“Let’s go!” Shao Wan smiled at him.

“Thank you,” Mo Yuan said quietly and pressed her hand.

They walked towards the light and the excited voices of their friends chatting like a flock of magpies.

“Look! Look! Is there some color returning to her face?”

“Did he just take a breath?”

“I can’t believe this didn’t take 50,000 years!”


They looked at each other. There was a mischievous gleam in her eyes.

“Should we give them a fright?” Mo Yuan asked.

“Oh, I like that,” Shao Wan chuckled. “You know how many worlds there are to explore from this place? Thousands. Millions! If you want to go see Qing Quan suffer, I know where he is.”

“I don’t want to see anyone suffer. I want you to be happy. Is there a place you want to go in particular?” Mo Yuan asked her.

“Hmmmm… no,” Shao Wan shrugged. “But I would like to go to one where there’s food. The best food in the world. Oh, can you make new worlds?”

“Me?” Mo Yuan was quite taken aback by that thought.

“Well, you’re their son,” Shao Wan shrugged. “And very talented in general, I’m sure you could.”

“No,” the thought was quite horrifying to him.

“You could try? Make one where there are only beautiful men who kind of look like you, and all wear their hair open,” she suggested.

“No!” Mo Yuan hoped she was joking, but maybe she wasn’t and he loved her even more for it.

“Just a suggestion, just a suggestion,” she murmured.

They walked on for quite a bit and by the way she turned her head to all sides, it seemed like Shao Wan was looking for something that she couldn’t find.

“Do you know of a Guardian your father left behind? She’s a beautiful woman,” she asked. “I should have asked her name…”

“I do not,” Mo Yuan answered truthfully.

“She must be around here somewhere… huh. I guess I’m lost. Maybe this place does not want you to find her anymore.”

“Shao Wan, we can’t stay away for too long - I want to see our children,” Mo Yuan said, slowing his steps though he had absolutely no idea where there might be a way out of this strange darkness.

“You are right,” she sighed, “let’s just go have a good meal somewhere nice. I want to see our children too. They will be fine for a bit without us though - they have a whole mountain full of nannies. Which is great. I might often use their services once it gets taxing in the future.”

“Are you not moving to Kunlun?” some things needed to be asked even if you already knew the answer.

“Mo Yuan, you know I want to become Demon Overlord again!”

“I see. Well. I could finish writing that book about Demon culture,” he said, thinking that living at the Obsidian Palace with her for a while in their still officially unwed state would scandalize enough Celestial to last several lifetimes.

“Good idea, Mo Yuan,” she said, “and I bet you it will take you much longer than you think. Some of that information you got is complete bogus. I’m sure my people deliberately misled you, you’re an enemy after all.”

“An enemy?” Mo Yuan chuckled. “True, no Demon can beat me. They better watch out.”

“Just you wait until I have all my powers back!”

“I’d rather not,” Mo Yuan said, “or you might really beat me.”

She needed a new weapon, he thought. He wanted to get her one.

They walked on in comfortable silence after this.

“There will come a time I will have to go back to Kunlun,“ Mo Yuan said to her. “To take up my post again.”

“Yes, I know,” she nodded. “Our realms are not that far apart. Especially not for a cloud jumper as reckless as you.”

“I’m not…”

She laughed at his instant defense that she had obviously expected. How familiar they were with each other. How good it felt.

Watching how Shao Wan opened a portal with the shimmering ethereal ring she wore, Mo Yuan smiled at her. No matter what would happen in the future, what mattered was that they were facing this future together.

THE END
(though stay tuned for a couple of epilogues:)