Fanfiction: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan - Chapter 59 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 59

written by Miniorchid
edited by kakashi

Once again she was back at the entrance. Ten days...and she had not even gotten halfway. But she was fortunate, she told herself. Because of the training she had received at Kunlun with the Demon Ancestor, and because of Kunlun’s power suppression that had forced her to excel, her agility and speed had improved exponentially. If not, she would never have made it this far.

The first day, when she had been completely unprepared for the ambushes, she had only managed to clear a couple of hundred yards, and then was quickly thrown back by the force of the magical vines. The shields here were so strong, cloud jumping was not an option.

Frustrated at her failure, she had thought she could make it further, maybe halfway, but it was too difficult, with the magical traps. She had to head back to cultivate her magic that night in preparation for the next day. They were testing her, her commitment, her strengths. They wanted her to prove herself to them. Ancient beings that they were, their methods were still admirable.

Yan Zhi rode her horse back to Grand Ziming Palace by nightfall and was welcomed by the unusually anxious Xiu Sisters. Fearing the worst, she hurriedly climbed off her horse and ran straight to Xiu Yin, the eldest.

“What’s wrong? Is it Qiao Er?”

“The Princess is safe... but your Highness, you have a guest.”

“What? Who?”

She rushed towards her throne room before Xiu Yin could answer. Dumbstruck, she found Zi Lan sitting on her throne, with a sleeping Qiao Er on his lap, while Qilin, in his true form, was lying at his feet.

Zi Lan greeted her with his usual bright smile. “Qiao Er couldn’t wait anymore. We’ve been practicing swordplay while you were out. I must have exhausted her.” His relaxed demeanor never changed, despite this being enemy territory, and his hand continued to sooth the child in his arms, “I’ve never been to your home before. Si Yin told me that the flora and fauna are unique.”

“As I recall, you drew a magical line at the border to prevent yourself from entering some time ago.” Her cold reply didn’t stop him from grinning broadly, infuriating her even more. “How did you get in?”

“I have my ways,” he said, caressing Qiao Er’s cheek.

Her fists clenched at the display before her.

“I just had to stay at the border for several days,” he shrugged. “It didn’t take her long to dream of me.”

“Xiu Yin, escort the Princess to her room. Dismiss the rest of the guards.”

Xiu Yin immediately removed Qiao Er from Zi Lan’s arms, and hurriedly left the room with Qilin. They were alone now.

“Xiu Yin should not have let you in, what did you tell her?”

Zi Lan stood up, and with deliberate but casual strides, he strolled towards her. “That I cannot take credit for. Qiao Er was very good with her words. I think 5th senior has taught her a thing or two at Kunlun. And who can say no to our lovely daughter?”

Shocked by his statement, her voice increased in volume. “She’s not your daughter!”

His gaze turned possessive. “She is, isn’t she? Not by blood, but she has my cultivation,” he argued, with an edge of underlying anger.

Unable to refute his twisted statement, she could only give him a reproachful glare. “May I remind you, this is my home, your powers are suppressed here.”

He chuckled cynically at her threat and his smile never reached his eyes as he casually picked up his sword from the table. “I’m well aware of my situation.”

Yan Zhi headed to the left wall, to remove the sword on display. “I can easily kick you out, you no longer have any advantage over me.” Her expression challenged him, her sword rose.

Zi Lan smiled at the sharp object now aiming in his direction. “You can try. But you cannot get rid of me that easily,” he drawled.

Without hesitation, he lunged at her, but she dodged to the side. It didn’t take long for them to spar like they often had at Kunlun. The man was relentless when it came to what he wanted. She had always known he would eventually find a way to enter the Ghost Realm. He was the most stubborn man she had ever known, and that was something, given that she had grown up surrounded by stubborn men. But this was her realm, her territory, her home. He could not believe he could simply barge into her life as he pleased without consequences. She wouldn’t make it easy on him. As their blades continued to clash, he was surprisingly quicker and more stealthy than before. Yan Zhi sped up her movements, but before she could pull back, her sword had pierced his shoulder.

“Why have you not dodged?” she cried in shock.

Zi Lan looked at his own sword, then dropped it down to his feet. “As you said, my powers are suppressed here. The odds are against me when you decide to use yours.”

“So you let yourself get hurt?” she asked in bewilderment, still stunned by his recklessness.

Zi Lan glanced at his shoulder, the white garb now bathed in crimson blood. “I may need to recuperate now,” he answered matter of factly, but the teasing spark never left his eyes.

“You planned this?” she accused him. Then he did the unthinkable; he held onto the sword embedded in his shoulder with one hand as he steadily walked towards her, forcing her to retreat.

“No…” his head shook, on his face an unfazed expression that continued to threaten her composure, “but I take every opportunity that presents itself.”

Her back was now against the wall, she could not retreat any further. Her trembling hand still held the sword that continued to dig into his shoulder. “You’re mad.”

Undeterred, his gaze unwavering, he leaned closer, ignoring the blade in his shoulder and the cuts on his hand, blood continuing to ooze from his wounds. “Zi Lan, stop…,” she released her hold on the sword, it clanked to the floor.

“Yan Zhi, let me stay by your side.” His fingers brushed her loose hair behind her ears, a feathery touch of tingling sensation. “I won’t let you run from me,” his hoarse voice turned seductive, alluring, and she found herself flushed from his bewitching words.

Gathering her senses from his heated gaze, she said: “You have to leave. It’s too dangerous for you here.”

“For you as well and for Qiao Er.” His dark eyes narrowed, his demeanor changed abruptly as he placed both hands on the wall, entrapping her. “I understand you have your duties and responsibilities, your people need you. I promise to stay out of your way. I’m here to assure Qiao Er’s safety, so your mind can be at ease. You need a trusted ally, so you can focus on reclaiming what is yours.”

“I have allies.”

“But you also have unknown enemies among them. You and I both know Cheng Yin has spies, lying in wait just for the opportunity to strike. Qiao Er is your weakness, and they know that. I’ll protect her. Even as her shadow.”

“But you’re already hurt,” she countered.

Zi Lan tried to stifle his chuckle, but to no avail. “As long as you don’t injure me any more, I think I should be fine.” She scowled at him, but that only made him smile back at her. He suddenly leaned to the side of her face, his breath close to her ear.

“I am a good spy,” he whispered, his words devilishly enticing as he continued to tempt her resistance, “I watched you for many years, unnoticed. I am a valuable resource you can use and trust.”

Yan Zhi couldn’t argue with his logic. Zi Lan would indeed make a valuable resource, not least for intel from other realms she might have missed. As she was contemplating his words, he must have taken her silence as an invitation. His gaze lowered to her mouth. His hand grazed the side of her jaw, her chin was lifted ever so lightly, the pad of his thumb gently traced her lower lip, he was leaning closer...his tantalizing mouth came close to hers....instinctively, her eyes fluttered shut.

“I need to get out of these clothes.”

What? Her eyes opened, confused. His head rested on her shoulder. Breathing heavily, he had finally succumbed to the pain from his injury.

“Qiao Er will cry if she sees me bloody again.”

Yan Zhi didn’t know whether to cry or laugh, this man continued to baffle her with his actions. She held him close, allowing him to lean against her. “You foolish man.”

“Only when it comes to you,” he muffled those ridiculous yet tender words against her throat.

Yes, he would continue to be a fool. But he was her fool.


Zi Lan held the elixir bottle tightly in his hand as he observed his surroundings. Yan Zhi had taken him to her chambers an incense earlier, then sent in her healer and her attendants in her stead. As usual, she was serene even when she was distressed. His Queen never ceased to amaze him with her ability to build a wall around herself wherever she went. Every cell in his body knew she was hiding something. He had caught a glimpse of it earlier, but as soon as she had realized, her shields had gone up again.

He was angry - his temper had been kept unchecked since he had awoken without her. He had only received the letter from 4th senior after he had found out she had departed that very night with Qiao Er. However, despite his initial fury at how she had left things between them, he was impressed by her accomplishments since her return.

The warriors here were devoted to their royals, expressed in how protective they were of Qiao Er. Ghost warriors were admirable for their unsurpassed loyalty, but they also were unpredictable, depending on where their loyalty lied. Yan Zhi must have anticipated this, she had managed to create her own personal troop of royal guards. All dressed in black with scarlet red stripes, they were female ghost warriors who had not hesitated to attack him when he came within sight. If not for Fiery Qilin’s intervention and Qiao Er’s slyness, he may have had sustained severe injuries when he fought against them. They were very well trained, but their spirit energy was even more exceptional. They were fighting for something, unlike other warriors before them - he wondered what it was that Yan Zhi had discovered and harnessed.

Dressed only in his white undergarments, he waited after her healer had tended to his injuries, and her servants had removed his bloody clothing. When she returned, her garment had changed into a black dress with red linings. Her hair was partially up, with one thick braid over her shoulder. She had become even more breathtaking, beautiful, and comfortable in her own realm. Her radiant aura filled the room with her presence.

“Unfortunately, white garments are hard to find here. You will have to make due with these. Also you won’t stand out here,” she explained, holding dark blue garments in her hands.

He stood up, continuing to maintain control over his emotions for the moment. “Yan Zhi.”

“Don’t get up yet,” she said, but her worried soft voice only made him more determined, “you’re still injured, I’ll help you dress.”

He approached her. “Take off your clothes.”

“What?” Blanching, she backed away from him on instinct. “No.”

“I’ll do it if you won’t.” He captured her wrist, the garments in her hands dropped to their feet.

“Let go, wait!” there was panic in her voice.

He yanked her into his arms with her back to him. She tried to struggle, but stopped when he grunted in pain. “Stop struggling or you’ll open my wounds.”

“Zi Lan, please don’t!”

But he didn’t listen, he couldn’t, when his senses were now overloaded with uncontrollable rage, anger, and frustration. He had to know. Ignoring her trembling body, he pulled at the collar of her garment with one quick move, exposing her shoulders and her back. As he had suspected, her body was bruised, cut and scarred. But it was far worse than he had imagined. He froze as he stared at her once flawless porcelain skin that was now battered with injuries.

“What are these?” He released her.

She turned to face him, her face white as sheets. She pulled her clothes back into place. “Zi Lan…how did you...”

“Your room is filled with hidden elixirs. Your movements are different - maybe others won’t notice but I do. Even your scent is gone.” His body trembled, infuriated by her continued reluctance to trust him. “These are days worth of injuries. Even while training, you shouldn’t sustain this many. Who hurt you?” he demanded to know.

“It’s not what you think.”

“Then tell me what to think!” he grabbed her shoulders. “You’ve only been back for half a moon’s time, and your body is now covered in injuries. Did Cheng Yin send assassins again?”


“Then who?” She turned away from his gaze, and his eyes widened with understanding. “The Elders? How could they?” Zi Lan asked in disbelief. But her silence only enraged him more. “Why would they bring you back for this?” He grabbed her arm. “Get Qiao Er, we have to leave immediately.”

She pulled him back before he could drag her away. “Zi Lan, stop! I’ll explain everything.”

He halted at her cry. Finally, the shields lifted, a truly rare occasion when it came to her. He had to relent, because she was willing to talk, and he had to hear what she had to say. With a willpower he couldn’t possibly possess under the circumstance, he nodded reluctantly.

“Three days after my return, the Elders sent me an invitation to their place. The residence is the Valley of the Blue Moths, hidden deep within the Ghost realms. The most beautiful valley one could ever imagine, but the beauty is a just a facade - it is utterly deadly. No one dares to venture there. We grew up hearing stories that those who enter may not come out, or at minimum be heavily injured if they’re lucky. The Valley is filled with magical traps, set to deter visitors. I’ve been trying to get there ever since, today will be the tenth day.”

“Why would they invite you with the traps set in place?”

“It’s my trial.”

“Trial…,” he echoed, “You’ve had enough of a life’s trial.”

“No, I haven’t,” she argued. Her expression was pained, her eyes haunted, but she forced herself to continue. “I abandoned my people, my responsibilities. Innocent lives were lost because of me. And more souls will be lost if I don’t become stronger to defeat my enemies. The Elders have every right to test my resolve. This is nothing compared to what my people have suffered.”

“What makes you think you won’t die from this trial they set up?” he asked incredulously.

“The Elders won’t let it kill me,” she said with confidence.

“How do you know?”

“Each time I fail, I am transported back to the entrance of the Valley,” she explained. “They also provide elixirs for my injuries. They don’t plan to let me die.”

“Even so, you don’t need to gain cultivation this way. There are other ways.”

“No, this is the only way. I have to become powerful, fast, so I can protect my people. And the Elders are willing to help me reach my goal.”

“Yan Zhi, you can’t expect me to allow this to continue.”

She stared at him and he saw the moment her poise changed and she reestablished her shield. Controlled, her voice was as strong as steel when she finally spoke. “It is not your choice,” cold yet fierce eyes narrowed as she continued. ”Earlier, you gave your word to stay out of my way. You’re only here to protect Qiao Er, so I can have peace of mind. Unless you want to recant your promise. If so, please leave. I can have my guards send you back to Kunlun to recuperate from your injuries.”

Yes, he had given his promise: Words that now haunted him. Never had he felt this helpless. His rage was not directed at her, but at himself. Because of his own weakness, she continued to suffer, and he couldn’t protect her. While she struggled to survive, he had been idling at the border. He wanted to get them out of there. To run, to avoid all the conflicts of the realms. To live in peace with them. But instead, he swept her into his arms, ignoring the pain in his shoulder, and laid her on the bed before she could protest.

“Zi Lan?”

He went to grab the medicine left by the healer. His expression was grim when he returned to her side. “Turn around and undress, I’ll help you heal your injuries.” His tone didn’t allow further argument.

Understanding dawning, Yan Zhi turned away, and slowly removed her outer garment, exposing her days old injuries. Reigning in his anger as he stared at her festering wounds, he cursed before appling the medicinal salve. Who knew how many internal injuries she had endured.

He gave a heavy sigh. “You didn’t let anyone know, these are not yet healed.” Her back was covered in burns and needle marks. What kind of magic traps had they set up?

“It’s dangerous if words get out. Weakness does not exist in the Ghost Realm, we are a warrior clan after all. I guess that’s why the Elders provide the elixirs themselves. But those are only for internal injuries.”

“Yet, you said you have allies.” His hand paused in mid-stroke on her back before he applied more salve. “I’ll tend to your injuries from now on.”

Yan Zhi silently nodded, though they both knew it was not a question. Those ruthless Elders, who were they? He had never felt wrath to such an extent before. Hidden shadows were far more worrisome than visible enemies.

“Tell me everything,” he demanded, “to be able to protect Qiao Er, I need to know what your realm has hidden from the outside world.”

“On one condition.” Her tone was composed, yet earnest.

“Oh? Do tell.” He helped her slip into her dark robes, as he lifted her braid to the side.

“I need intel from your realm, and what you know about the Demon Clan activities.”

“When did my Queen acquire a taste for bargaining?” he teased. Clearly offended by his taunt, her elbow thrust against his chest. As he grunted in pain in between laughter, he had to give in. “Oh right, I remember now, you do like to bargain.”

She turned around to face him, her gaze serious. “We both know Information is valuable during times of war. Although Ghosts are the best spies in all the realms, there is information we couldn’t get. If you want to stay, you have to prove your worth.”

He stared at her, and his hand stroked her hair unconsciously. The Elders may have used harsh methods, but Yan Zhi had changed under their guidance. Her will to protect those under her care, no matter what she had to endure, had always been her core. But now, she had learned to use tactics to her advantage and the resources at her disposal. Although her strength and willpower were obvious, they continued to mask the softness underneath. Softness that enchanted him, more than any seduction he had known.

His hand continued to stroke down her throat, over the delicate curve of her collarbone, his fingers traced the edge of her robe. Her breath caught, pure startled eyes caught his, but Zi Lan gave her a rueful smile before pulling the collars of her robe together, covering the pearl white skin still flushed from his caress. He straightened the layers of her robes and tied her belt securely. She stared at him, perplexed by his actions. He went to pick up the garments she had dropped earlier.

He slipped into the lighter silk robe. “We can’t talk business if we’re not dressed properly. And I don’t want to be accused of seducing you for intel, with my current undressed state,” he told her, as he fastened the side of the robe.

Zi Lan bent to grab the heavy robe on the floor, when the music that could capture any man’s soul resonated in the room. His Queen had burst out laughing. The sweet sound of laughter was so mesmerising, he almost dropped the robe from his hand, and felt light headed from her youthful voice and the joy he saw in her sparkling eyes. Enthralled by the unexpected turn of events, the urge to embrace her again was maddening.

But no, regrettably, now was not the time. They had business to attend to, enemies to uncover, and battles to win. Their time would have to come.

Chapter 60