Fanfiction: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan - Chapter 53 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 53

written by kakashi

“I can show you,” Mo Yuan said, “the basics are simple even if the details are not.”

He took her by the hand and led her to a part of Kunlun Mountain she had never been to before. It sat deep within the West Corner, hidden away behind a door reachable only through a small narrow path flanked by stone walls. Behind a heavy wooden door, stone steps led down, deeper into the mountain. It was cool down here, dark and quiet, there was no sound of wind or water.

Shao Wan always felt slightly apprehensive when she entered the Mountain’s belly like this. It was said in the Demon Realm that Kunlun Mountain would shake a trespassing Demon off, so averse was their energy to the pureness of the Divine. But Mo Yuan held her hand firmly and led her to one of the bigger caves, not giving the Mountain a chance to decide whether it wanted to tolerate a Demon walking around in its innards or not.

“Demons like sweet wines, do they not?” Mo Yuan asked.

“Strong wines,” she said with a nod.

“I will show you how to make a basic peach wine then,” he smiled.

Shao Wan clapped her hands excitedly. “Will we be able to drink it tomorrow?”

Mo Yuan rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Is everything quick, quick, quick with you? A good wine takes time. This kind of wine takes at least ten days and then it isn’t even good.”

Ten days? That was...too long.

“Can’t we use magic?”

Mo Yuan shook his head again. “Did you not pay attention at school even once?”

“Of course I paid attention!” she bristled. She must have missed this particular lesson though.

Mo Yuan looked at her with slightly raised eyebrows. Being a teacher came so naturally to him, he even smelled like one sometimes. Dusty with a slight whiff of ink.

“So tell me already,” she snapped.

He sighed. “We can draw from the forces around us and the forces we call our own. We can move matter, we can sometimes change matter, but we cannot
create matter. Not even my father created matter, he made these realms by using matter that was already here.”

Shao Wan frowned. It rang a bell. And she remembered a fight she had had with Zhe Yan about the true nature of Pangu. Since Pangu was said to have come to awareness in a big black egg, she had always claimed their very first ancestor had been a Demonic Phoenix, just like herself, making her the most supreme of all beings. Zhe Yan had laughed at her and had called her a knucklehead.

“That is why we cannot conjure food that has not already been prepared,” the Celestial knowitall explained further.

“What about healing?” she demanded to know, sure he wouldn’t know a convincing answer.

“Some of us have the ability to rearrange energy flows in immortal bodies. In the process, nothing new is created.”

“But certainly, you can turn water into wine?”

“Did I not just explain-”

So wine was essentially something new? She would accept this, if he insisted so. But she did not want to believe it needed to take ten days. If energy flows could be rearranged in bodies, energy flows could be accelerated in wine.

“If one were to hasten the process,” she asked, “how would one do that?”

“Ye Heavens,” the Master of Kunlun Mountains exclaimed. “Will you ever learn to be patient?”

“I have no wish to be patient,” she replied and stepped closer. “I have you for that. One is so patient he will sit and watch the grass grow, the other is so impatient, she will run around the realms to find grass at the right length. It’s that simple. A matter of balance.”

“I suppose it is,” he laughed and stepped closer too.

His hand came up, mirroring hers. They touched each other’s faces at the same time, caressing their brows, their temples, their cheeks, their lips with the tips of their fingers.

“I will make the wines and you can drink them,” he whispered.

“Teach me the ones that require the least patience,” she whispered back, “and
you can drink them.”

She closed her eyes when he kissed her, his warm lips sweeter than any liquor she had ever tasted. But she did not have ten days. Unless there was a way to quicken the process, she would not be able to taste her first creation. This, like so many other things, saddened her greatly.


Shao Wan sat brooding in her dark room, chewing on the handle of her ink brush. Only one forlorn candle still provided its meager, flickering light for her scholarly exploits, all the others had burned down. Making lists had never been her forte, but sometimes, one had not much of a choice. Whether it was appropriate for the future Demon Overlord to brood over numbers and items in the dark of night was another matter, but this, too, could not be helped.

She looked over to her bed. Yue was fast asleep, his breast rising and falling slowly with each breath. Whenever she looked at him, she felt...old. She had asked her guards for their names, but they had insisted they had none, had forgotten them when they had entered the Purple Queen’s services at a very young age. Calling them by numbers would have been the most obvious choice, but that reminded her too much of that place she was trying - and still failing - to forget. How could she call a Demon Soldier “Second” and not immediately think of the sound of Chang Shan’s busy brush in the Great Hall? No, instead, she had decided to give her guards names she would easily remember: Sun/Taiyang, Moon/Yue, Star/Xing, Cloud/Yun, Rain/Yu, Thunder/Lei, Mountain/Shan, Lake/Hu, Forest/Lin, Stone/Shi, Tree/Shu, and Bird/Que.

They were hard to keep apart, being so similar in appearance and demeanor. But she had observed them carefully for a few hours until she had been able to discern little differences. Taiyang pulled one corner of his mouth up after he finished a sentence. Yue, the one she had taken to bed, had crinklier eyes than the others. Xing’s eyebrows were a tiny bit broader. Etc. Etc. Since she spent basically every second with them - except when she went to see Fong Hung - she was grateful for their quiet, subservient attitudes and their pleasant ability to make it seem like they were not even there.

Overall, they seemed worth their price - which was at least some consolation for a Queen who was almost completely broke. Right after Cheng Yin had brought all the Generals to her grand throne room and they had sworn a blood oath to serve her unconditionally, she had taken stock of her wealth and had quickly realized it was in a dire state: She had her jewels, gemstones, and some very rare items left, but she felt sentimental about most of them, those were her very last resort. Her Demon Coins would suffice maybe for another week, a week and a half at the most, if she held off payment for her new gowns.

Alas, money, just like other things, could not be made from nothing, not even with magic.

When she had been Overlord before, she had had so many advisors and ministers for all the details of daily life and it had always been Fong Hung to oversee them and make sure they performed as they should. She was pretty sure that just sitting in her palace and making people fear her had earned her money back then, but how she had pulled that off exactly and how she could replicate it now, she did not know. There were worshipers gathering outside her Palace every day, but instead of bringing her coins, they brought her offerings like grapes, grain, or dead animals, overall things that ended up on her plate. Those things were sold on markets, she knew, but they could not be too valuable if these worshipers gave them away so easily.

No, she needed to find something that made her a lot of money. And in a short time.

Sucking and chewing on the bamboo handle of her brush again, she started thinking about things she was good at: Fighting. Drinking. Maybe teaching? Being entertained by good stories. Next, things she enjoyed: Angering Celestials. Fighting. Drinking. Writing embarrassing plays to anger Celestials.

She wrote these items down on her scroll, in two columns - feeling proud for being so orderly - and immediately noticed the similarities between the two lists. She very much liked this discovery. Was it possible she could make money by doing things she was good at and enjoyed?

She got up and stretched. Yue shifted slightly on the cushions, never sleeping deeply, a guard even in his dreams. She opened the door to the corridor. Immediately, two of her men stood before her. It was too dark to differentiate between them so she just signalled wordlessly for them to come in. From the shadows, two others appeared, taking their places.

She closed the door. Yue was awake now, looking their way from the bed. “Be at ease,” she told them, “I have something to discuss with you.”

She tied her dressing gown better, no need to scandalize these men, and sat down on her couch in a queenly pose.

“I need some information,” she told them.

They bowed.

“Can you not sit down?” she asked, feeling exhausted from just looking at their ever-straight backs. They exchanged glances, then one of them - was it Yu? - carefully lowered himself to kneel on the floor. Shao Wan rolled her eyes but nodded, because he was waiting for a signal whether this was what she had asked for.

Once all three kneeled in front of her, she asked: “Are the fighting pits of Huang Juéwàng still open?”

From their wide-eyed reactions, it seemed they were.

She nodded, satisfied. She was not surprised Qing Jiang had failed to close that place down and was not surprised Cheng Yin hadn’t even tried. “On whose territories are they?”

“Nobody’s,” the third guard said. It must be Shi, he was quicker than the others and a bit more outspoken.


“Venerated Ancestor, no clan leader was able to keep that territory, several tried. It is basically lawless no man’s land.”

Better and better. “I want you to take me there,” Shao Wan said.

“Ancestor,” said Yue and drew in breath sharply, “it is too dangerous. We swore an oath to protect you with our lives.”

“And you value these lives more than my order?” she barked at them.

They said nothing but bowed deeply, murmuring apologies. She would forgive them, because they were young and new, but they better learned fast.

“I need to participate in the fights incognito,” she said and their heads all shot up in shock, “and I need you to bet on me. The odds will be high, at least 12 to 1 - in the beginning at least. We should be able to amass quite a fortune in 10 rounds.”


“I will have to advance my ranking as quickly as possible to get a share directly. Once people realize I am good and am always winning, the odds will decrease immediately.”

They bowed deeply again, clearly at a loss what to say.

“Not a word to any living soul but your 9 brothers. If I find out one of you told Yi Mei Niang, I will gut him with the bluntest knife I can find to make it extra slow and painful. Do you understand?”

“We understand,” said Shi, but he looked at her like you would look at someone who had just signed a death sentence.

“That is not all,” Shao Wan said. “We will also make wine and sell it there. I believe there is a special berry in Yi Mei Niang’s garden that quickens the fermentation. I also believe it will have...other effects. Beneficial ones. Tomorrow, I will pay her a visit to buy this plant. I will take two of you with me. The rest will gather all the other ingredients and tools we need. Hide your true identities when you make purchases.”

They bowed again and stayed down.

“Since you will find out sooner rather than later anyway,” she said, “I will give you a reason for these orders: I need to make money, a lot and very quickly. You lot cost me so much I’m now broke.”

“Ancestor…,” they looked so shocked in their earnest ways she felt like patting their heads to tell them it wasn’t their fault.

“You can leave now,” she said, “all of you.”

“Majesty, will you please get some sleep,” said Yue.

She glared at him so viciously he quickly kowtowed. “I overstepped, my apologies, Ancestor!” he cried.

“I did not know you are also taught to think and meddle,” she mumbled, not really angry at all, “I hope it’s the last time or I will send you back to your owner with your knees broken.”


Two days later, Shao Wan and her posse of bodyguards entered Huang Juéwàng in disguise and at different times so as not to draw any attention. She looked like a very slim, young man in brown leather and Yue, who had insisted on staying with her, looked like her slightly less battle-seasoned elder brother. She had left two of her men behind at the palace to guard her doors against unwanted guests. If anybody should ask, they had been instructed to claim she was inside, not wanting to be disturbed since she was enjoying some male company. Her maids had been sent away under the same pretext. It would probably not work for long, this ruse, but for now, it had to suffice.

Huang Juéwàng was as desolate a place as the name suggested, a wasteland of volcanic rock with little vegetation, inhabited by the desperate and the outcast, those so low not even Demons wanted to associate with them. The fighting pits were located in the large crater of an ancient, dead volcano, with rows upon rows of seating hewn directly into the black rock all around.

The rules of this arena were simple.

Anything was allowed. Any weapon, any trick, as underhanded and mean as it might be, any performance enhancing elixir, any magic. A win was scored if the opponent could no longer move, which mostly meant death or, for the more unlucky, crippling disability. More often than not, both fighters died. A novice fighter started in the bottom group. 10 wins and he could advance into the next rank. From rank 4 onwards, fighters got a share of the money that was bet on them, the higher up they were, the more, since the risk to be killed also increased.

Women did not often try their luck here, since there were only a few who had the physiques or powers that allowed them to take on a Demon man. Among those who had made an impression here, only one was legendary. Her name had been Xiao Chuan (鲜串), nicknamed “The Fury”. Because men had refused to believe she was a woman at all, she had started to fight with naked breasts, which had greatly added to the spectacle.

This time, Shao Wan did not plan to go that far. She had participated for the thrill and for cultivation back then, but this time, it was for the money, quick in, quick out.

The smell of the place was instantly familiar and just as revolting as she remembered - sulfur, blood, feces, piss, and sweat. She put down her name for the beginner’s rounds (she called herself “Golden Dragon” and gave her affiliation as “Clanless”) and checked the odds of the bets. Not 1 to 12 at all, but only 1 to 2. She sighed. Many things had changed, but Demons were still greedy. Very well, it just meant she would have to fight longer. It was still morning and she was confident she would be able to clear her group later today. Even if she just doubled her money with every round...

Doubling money in her head, she was feeling quite happy, but Yue looked very gloomy.

“Hey, Yue,” she said and grinned at him like she imagined a younger brother would grin, “I need you to get me all the performance enhancing elixirs on sale here.”

The boy’s eyes grew round and worried. “But...An...didi, you cannot take those! It is too dangerous!”

“Do you think I need those?” she hissed at him, “no, I want to see what they are using these days. And then, I want to make better elixirs and sell them here as well. And I want you to stop questioning my command, you idiot.”

Suppressing an impulse to bow, Yue quickly obeyed and disappeared into the crowd. No imagination, this lot, and far too emotional. While getting ready for her first fight, she nodded to Shan, who stood at one of the entrances and was busy giving out free samples of their wine. They had more for later, at a reasonable price. The next day and the next, the price would be slightly adjusted upwards.

This, Shao Wan thought, this was going to greatly piss off some people like Yi Mei Niang and Cheng Yin, whom she knew to be into selling substances as well. It was just an added benefit: She would become rich again and she would destroy the businesses of her enemies. Win, win.


“So I went to the library and I…”

He shifted to look at her.

“Yes, what? You think I cannot read?”

He laughed. She tried to tickle him, but of course, he was not ticklish - or he just masked it well. She lightly traced the scars she had made on his body with her fingertips. She particularly liked the phoenix fire scars, but they did not often show themselves. She breathed on his body, trying to heat it up, but that never worked.

“I read ‘A Winemaker’s Tale’. And I found some scribbles in the margins.”


“You made them, am I right?”


“So there is a berry that hastens fermentation?”

“There is.”

“And you’re not using it because?”

“Because it has other effects too.”

“What effects?”

“I believe it makes an energy imprint on whoever ingests it. The body will want more of it.”

“Any wine merchant would love to know about this!” she exclaimed excitedly. “Imagine how rich you can become!”

He frowned. “Shao Wan, listen to what you are saying. You would willingly and knowingly sell a bad wine that would make people come back for more because of this substance?”

She shook her head and feigned outrage at the very thought, just to please him, but what did
he know. As the son of Father Immortal, he must be impossibly rich. Yes, true, she herself had never had to earn money either, but at least she knew people who had to. They would never let such knowledge go to waste.

"Who taught you to make wines?" she asked him, while pulling gently on his hair. Why had he never let her braid it? It was a crying shame.

"An earth deity. He later became the God of Wine.”

“I find you annoying.”

“Why, Shao Wan?” His dark eyes looked troubled. He took her seriously, of course. He always took everything so damn seriously. Fine, she was serious. He was infuriating, even when she could not get enough of him.

“Is everything easy for you?”

He thought about this for a moment. “No. Nothing is. And nothing ever was."


Shao Wan scored ten wins with ease on her first day of fighting, even though she had partially sealed her powers, not wanting to draw too much attention to her true abilities right away. The crowd went insane, the bookmakers scratched their heads, she had made ample money before they had a chance to realize this new fighter was costing them quite a bit, and before nightfall, she and her bodyguards were on their way back. Her guards were even smiling, not something she had thought they were capable of.

Overall, a very good day.

Only: All that fighting, all those excited male bodies and their smell had made her crave the blasted Celestial so much she wanted to scream.

As soon as they were back at the palace, she screamed: “Everybody out!"

She took her lust and her yearning to bed with her. In her uneasy dreams, Mo Yuan shook her head at her and said: “What are you doing, Shao Wan?”

She fell into his arms with a sigh. “Hold me,” she said, “just hold me.”

His arms formed a protective barrier around her body and his breathing calmed her down. She snuggled close, very, very close as he gently stroked her hair. She let out a long sigh. This was where she felt secure.

But it was just a dream.

The next morning, she had to meet Cheng Yin and her Generals and discuss war strategies. And the next, she had to go and win another ten fights. The life of a Queen was very, very exhausting.

Chapter 54