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

Chapter 60

written by kakashi

“What is it, Y...Da-Ge,” Shao Wan snapped at Yue, who was trying to get her attention with furtive, yet clumsy hand signs.

“It is urgent,” her guard whispered into her ear, “we need to return to the Obsidian Palace immediately. The Yellow King is there and he insists on seeing you.”

Shao Wan groaned in frustration. Of all days. She had finally advanced to Group Five today and that meant more money and even harder fights. Finally, the Demon in charge of the Huang Juéwàng fighting pits had wanted to see her, an important step in her plan. His name was Shǒu and he looked almost exactly like his great-grandfather: A heart-shaped, quite feminine face, with fine, elegant eyebrows and a well-groomed, small moustache. It made her a bit nostalgic, she remembered some good times with that man. But he was dead now, like so many of the people she had known, killed in the First Demon War.

“Who are you really?” Shǒu had asked her before even offering any greetings and she had liked him for it.

“I am the Golden Dragon,” she had replied and bowed.

They had haggled over her share - the man was making quite a bit of additional money thanks to her and Shao Wan did not want to be too generous with him. The crowds were getting bigger, the bets more plentiful - and the Realms were abuzz with talk about the new fighter and his possible identity. The risk was getting higher, it was time to withdraw soon - she was getting much too much attention already so she wanted to take as much as she could get and make sure her other businesses flourished enough before turning her back on this place. Her performance enhancing elixirs were already quite sought after - she had even gotten Cheng Yin to buy them for his soldiers, though he had no clue she was the manufacturer - and her wine was an often scarce commodity at the pits and beyond.

But more and more often, her conscience said “Shao Wan, you would willingly and knowingly sell a bad wine that would make people come back for more because of this substance?” and for a while, she would feel very bad for all the people who could not help themselves but had to come back again and again for the wine.

Shǒu squinted at them suspiciously.

“My brother just informed me our father is not feeling well,” Shao Wan said and stood up. “We must come to his aide. I shall come back to finish our talk at a more opportune moment.”

Shǒu stood as well and nodded. “Golden Dragon, you remind me very much of someone my father often talked about.”

“I get that a lot,” she said, and swore to herself to never come back.

They bowed their goodbyes and after collecting the others, they cloud-jumped back to their assembly point near the palace. They always had to use confusion magic, because too many people tried to follow the “Golden Dragon”. Again, Shao Wan vowed that this was it, she was not going back to fight - you only needed enough Demons obsessed with uncovering someone’s identity and you could be certain one of them would eventually succeed. Their plan of action was to spread out and enter the palace from different directions and at different times, but Shao Wan always had to take the fastest, most direct route. It was through one of the secret passages that led straight to her room, and as always when she stumbled through the narrow stone tunnel, she cursed the fact that she had put up wards to prevent cloud-jumping in and out of the palace. As she rushed along, she remembered to lift the illusion magic from herself. She also discovered a rather nasty cut on her left arm - the adrenaline must have prevented her from feeling it before. She healed it as well as she could while running.

When she entered her room, she heard fighting outside. She had left Lin and Shu in charge and though they were just all well-trained as their brothers, she did not think they would last long against Cheng Yin. Hastily taking off all her male fighter-clothes and stuffing them under the bed, she put on a dressing gown, quickly got her hair in order by shaking her head violently, and strode to the door.

“Is this really necessary?” she barked after ripping it open.

“Took you long enough,” Cheng Yin said, looking her up and down, leisurely rolling up his whip, “you must tell me your secret for sleeping so soundly.”

“I wasn’t exactly sleeping,” she frowned, wishing she knew how long Cheng Yin had actually tried to break into her room and how much he might be suspecting. She nodded to her guards, quite proud of them for proving their worth. They looked rather exhausted and were sweating profoundly, but at least, they were still standing.

“May I enter?” Cheng Yin asked with a bow.

“Absolutely not,” she answered, “meet me in the red throne room.”

“What have you been up to?” he asked her curiously as soon as she arrived there, now dressed properly in a dark red dress, with perfunctory make-up and pulled back hair.

“Since when is that your business?” she asked and sat down on her throne.

“I have heard stories and I thought…”

“Maybe you should think less,” she said moodily, “what do you want?”

“I wanted to remind you that we need to inspect our infantry divisions this afternoon.”

“Do you think I’m senile? Of course I remember that I need to inspect my troops. I will be there.”

He leered. And he lingered.

“What else?”

“I have a present for you,” Cheng Yin said with an excited smile. From his sleeve pocket, he pulled the most beautiful armor Shao Wan had ever seen. It was red and golden and if she was not completely mistaken…

“Dragon and Qilin scales,” Cheng Yin said as his hand wandered over the shimmering material tenderly, “It will make you immune to almost everything.”

It must have cost a fortune. Half a kingdom. An entire mortal realm. How had he even...

“What do you want for it?” Shao Wan asked gingerly, not trying to covet this treasure, since she knew him well and this must come with a massive hook.

“Just a night with you,” he immediately said and his violet eyes bore into her with a mixture of love and hate...and something else much more unsettling.

What did one even reply to this? Shao Wan felt exhausted and her injured arm hurt much more than it should. There were times she just wanted to disappear, leaving nothing behind. Drink an amnesia potion, rebuild a quiet, unimportant life somewhere nobody knew her.

“Take your armor and leave,” she said quietly. “Insult me again like this and I will forget that I need you.”

She sat in the dark room on her throne for a long time after Cheng Yin had left. Quiet footsteps came and went in the corridor outside. She heard her maids whisper with her guards and at one stage, one of her men poked his head in to check on her - it was Yue, of course, the boy was much too sentimental and attached. She should have done something against it days ago, but she had no energies left.

A bit later, Li Ying poked her head in. “Ancestor, are you alright?” she asked cautiously.

Shao Wan sighed at the sight of the Yellow Princess, because it made her remember how she had sat in this room exactly like this ten days ago. And several times after. Was it possible she had become a moper? Damn him.

*10 immortal days ago*

Shao Wan sat in her poorly lit throne room, lamenting her situation, when suddenly, there was a huge commotion at the palace gates and a familiar voice screaming: “I want to see my brother! Who are you people, let me see my brother!”

The led the agitated, struggling Demon Princess to her. Li Ying looked horrible. Her hair was a crazy mess, she wore no coat and her yellow dress was half-ripped and thoroughly crumpled.

“What happened to you, child?” Shao Wan said with concern.

“Oh, Ancestor,” Li Ying said and her lower lip quivered, “please, where is my brother?”

“He no longer lives here,” Shao Wan explained. “This is my palace and I sent him away.”

“But this is where I grew up…” Li Ying whispered, looking thoroughly lost.

“Come, sit with me,” Shao Wan said and took the young Demoness by the hand. As soon as she touched her, Li Ying seemed to completely deflate. She slumped down on the cushions and let her head hang.

“I hate him,” she said more to herself than to Shao Wan, “I hate him.” It sounded completely unconvinced. Shao Wan had made sure Li Ying was unhurt with a quick, but thorough scan: only the soul was suffering.

“I hate him too,” Shao Wan said and pressed Li Ying’s hand, but she knew quite well that it wasn’t true in her case either. Pathetic lies to cope with unwanted feelings. If only cutting ties was as easy as she had always believed it would be. How did these bastards even do it? How did these prideful, arrogant Celestials take hold of a woman’s unwilling heart like this?

“You can stay here with me,” she said to the Yellow Demon Princess, “I will have your old room arranged for you. You need some good rest.”

*Present Day*

And just like that, Li Ying had moved in with her. Shao Wan had given her her old room, for which she had no use anyway. She liked Li Ying, but since the details of the Princess’ relationship to her brother was a mystery to Shao Wan, she had her observed very carefully. The Yellow Princess had met her brother at the Obsidian Palace three times since her arrival, meetings during which nothing of consequence was discussed. At first, it seemed like the Princess didn’t care much about what was going on around her. However, as time progressed, Shao Wan noticed subtle changes in Li Ying’s behavior. She became much more guarded and much more pensive, while trying to stay out of Shao Wan’s way. Shao Wan wasn’t offended, Li Ying was the kind of person who always feared to be a burden to others, but she decided she would test how far Li Ying’s newfound political awareness could be taken at an opportune moment.

Now, Shao Wan sighed at the Princess’ sight and got up.

“I need to go somewhere. I will have Mi Mai prepare some mulled wine for you when you turn in. I will be late.”

Li Ying said nothing but nodded. Shao Wan patted her arm as she walked passed her. Ten days, but a heart as broken as on the first. What if their hearts could not be mended at all? What if they would go on hurting and hurting, forever? It was a scary thought.

Back in her room, she had her maids dress her in dark red leather and black, high boots, a general’s attire, and had them braid her hair appropriately. Finally putting on her helmet, she felt as ready as she could be.


With Zhe Yan and Donghua coming for a visit on this warm afternoon, the topic of their conversation inevitably and rather quickly turned to the one thing Mo Yuan was trying so hard to ban from his life completely. The chat was only amicable for a very short time before Mo Yuan got annoyed with his friends. As soon as he expressed his displeasure, Zhe Yan, who seemed to be in a bad mood anyway, lost his patience with him.

“You two seriously are idiots,” Zhe Yan said, and it was possibly the first time Mo Yuan had ever heard him that angry, “I will grow grey hair because of you, just like a mortal! And I will never forgive if you if you make me lose my beauty. What are we going to do with you?”

Mo Yuan’s own anger had been growing daily ever since the set-up at the orchard, and he was almost glad he could finally release it at someone else than himself.

“You,” he said and rudely pointed a finger at Zhe Yan, “have tried such a thing for the last time. If you do it again, I will bar you from Mount Kunlun and will cut all ties with you. And the same goes for you, Dijun.”

“How dare you threaten me!” Zhe Yan bristled.

“You and your impure wines are to blame for everything in the first place!”

“Impure…” Zhe Yan almost began to hyperventilate.

“Hmmmm,” Dijun interjected, “Mo Yuan is now blaming others for his own failings? That is quite out of character.”

Mo Yuan pressed his lips together. Donghua was right, of course. He had himself to blame, himself alone. But why was everybody around him so hellbound on making him think about that woman all the time? Why would they not just let him pretend she meant nothing to him? Why did they think they knew better than him? Had he ever given them the impression he didn’t know what he was doing?

But his anger dissipated - there was no substance behind it. He only felt very tired.

“My apologies,” he said contritely. “Please forgive me, Zhe Yan.”

“You may not want to realize it,” Zhe Yan said with a nod of the head and wave of his hand to signal his acceptance of the apology, “but the universe weeps over you two becoming enemies like this.”

“We always were enemies,” Mo Yuan said bitterly. “You are mistaken.”

“Is personally insulting your enemies a new tactic of yours?” Dijun asked.

Mo Yuan let his head hang. He felt so ashamed for his behavior at the orchard. He wished he could make it all unsaid. Why had he even spoken to her? He did much better when he didn’t talk - presenting people with his blank, emotionless face had always served him perfectly well, they projected anything they wanted into him and he had never let them down that way. But she… she made him lose his reason and his ways, even though he had tried to convince himself she had no influence over him anymore.

It was a lie, a plump, embarrassing lie.

And it had always been a lie. Sadly, this realization did not help him deal with things, it only made it worse. Who was she that she made him deceive himself to such a degree? From the very first time he had seen her at the school gates, she had affected him and she had never ceased to affect him. Trying to resisting the temptation had never been enough. Her beauty had always made him breathless and lightheaded. Her strength and power had made him covet to test his own against hers. He had wanted to win every single battle against her and yet, winning had never been enough to satisfy him. He had wanted...he wanted...he wanted her, in her entirety.

But he could not have her.

Mo Yuan suppressed the pain that had become familiar to him by now, pain that had nothing to do with any physical wounds, and looked down at the perfect unevenness of his new tea cup. Donghua had recently made this set, they were mint green with a dark coloured glazed rim. It was good this way: Donghua Dijun, one of the most powerful Gods alive, made tea cups and the world was what it had always been. Now that he understood what afflicted him, he would be alright again - soon. He had been able to move on from his Seventeenth; he no longer felt regret and defeat when he saw her by his brother’s side. If he could manage that, he would be able to move on from Shao Wan as well. He would just have to work harder to reach a state of complete indifference. Then, he would be able to see her, stand close to her, even kill her without any emotions. He just needed more time.

The conversation moved on too, but not to somebody else. It was still Shao Wan his friends wanted to discuss and this time, it was something she had said to Dijun during a recent meeting that they found noteworthy.

“She said to ‘look again’,” Dijun remarked. “And…’Look anywhere you can look’.”

“And you think that means something?” Zhe Yan asked.

“Yes, it obviously means something. It means: Look again. Look anywhere you can look.”

“Where should we look?”

“Should be in the Demon Realm. But she made sure I’m basically blind at the moment. Even if it’s not true that she has identified all my informants, I find it difficult to trust any of them now.”

When had she even gotten this cunning? Was it the Yellow Demon’s influence? Mo Yuan’s stomach lurched at the thought of that smooth faced, violet-eyed bastard. This day was full of traps - he had to make sure not to alarm Ye Hua and Si Yin again. Right to the next discomforting issue: Thinking of his last meeting with her with that weird memory lapse of his made him cringe. For a very brief moment, he had forgotten everything about the Bell, the sacrifice, the discovery, and he had believed… he had thought his favorite Disciple that meant so much to him had come to ease all his pain and would stay with him forever.

Mortifying. He would have to apologize to the Crown Princess again. He was sure she would understand, but he did not look forward to this conversation at all.

“You think she wanted to warn you? That makes no sense,” Zhe Yan said, shaking his head. “Why would she say you can’t win this war and at the same time, point you to something you have missed?”

Dijun shrugged. “She’s cunning, that one. Maybe she just wanted to confuse me. Or him.” She pointed his chin towards Mo Yuan, who was staring into empty space. “She is succeeding quite well, I must say. Mo Yuan? Are you there?”

Mo Yuan looked at his friends and blinked. He had completely missed the point - if there had been one.

“Are you thinking again about which secrets she might have seen?” Donghua asked. “I thought you already changed all your plans.”

Mo Yuan nodded grimly. He would not make the same grave mistake twice, so yes, he had changed every plan that had been written down and had been stored at Kunlun, cutting his nights short and making the little sleep he could get uneasy. He had lied to her when he had told her that nothing she might have seen had any value, to cover the shame he felt for his own stupidity. How could he have been so careless to trust a woman from an enemy tribe? The worst thing was he didn’t even know what she could have had access to. Four weeks, four weeks only, but it felt an eternity. He had been thoroughly bewitched, as if she had cast a spell on him. Decisions he had taken, orders he had given…he had difficulties remembering them. But every single moment he had spent with her was edged into his memory so vividly, it felt like this alone was what had ever mattered and would ever matter.

“That’s all you can do,” Donghua said, “since making peace with her seems out of the question. Well, I can’t even blame the God of War for wanting to go to war. I just hope we’ll have a little less drama than last time.”

“It would have been so perfect,” Zhe Yan murmured, “and I tell you, she was more than ready to patch things up.”

“Zhe Yan, Donghua,” Mo Yuan said and abruptly got up, “please remain on Kunlun for as long as you wish. I have business elsewhere.”

“Going to the mortal realm again?” Donghua asked.

“You are amazingly loyal,” Zhe Yan said, “to a place and a people that has never given you anything but pain.”

That statement gave Mo Yuan pause. Only pain? If this were true, why would he not stop going there? No - he needed a change of air and that place often gave him solace he could not find elsewhere.

He nodded to his friends and jumped on a cloud.

High Gods usually forgot the details and the place of their ascension trial easily. It was simply that - a trial, a lesson, a way for immortal beings to learn about the seven emotions and six desires and to cultivate some sympathy, maybe even empathy for the lower clans. In the long lives of immortals, those trials were certainly important, but quite often, an immortal trial was too short and in the end inconsequential to be remembered after several millennia.

In Mo Yuan’s case, things had been a little different. Maybe it was because the water from the River of Oblivion had accidentally worn off towards the end of his trial and he had remembered who he was. Maybe it was because in the old days, the Star Lords in charge of the trials had not had a lot of experience yet: When Mo Yuan ascended at 125’000 years old, not many other High Gods had ascended before him.

But maybe these were just perfunctory reasons and he returned to the world of his trial because of something else. Maybe it was because he could not stop feeling guilty, guilty for being born a God with a lot of cultivation. Maybe it was because he could not watch these mortals struggle without somehow feeling responsible for their plight. That place, it held power over him, and he had to return to that world, again and again.

On his way there, he happened to peer through the clouds down into another mortal realm, he wasn’t exactly sure why, he hardly ever bothered. But because he did this time, he saw something that made his heart skip a beat. The mortal realm below him was infested with Demons. It wasn’t one or two, it must be thousands. And one was among them whose aura he could pick out with his eyes closed.

Without any hesitation, Mo Yuan immediately changed his course and touched down on the world in question.

And so it happened that the Master of Kunlun Mountains landed right in the middle of a Demon army. It must be at least four full divisions.

Look again. Look anywhere you can look.

Shao Wan had hidden part of her army in the mortal realm. The implications were… staggering. These soldiers had had much more time for training than any soldier in the immortal realm, because the time down here moved at much greater speed. They could train for an entire year while someone in the immortal realm only got one day. Outwardly, this was exceptionally clever. However, it was also horribly cruel. Breaking the laws of nature like this by cheating on cultivation would have considerable consequences for these Demon soldiers. Mo Yuan could only guess, but all these men would probably have to die early to restore the balance of the universe. Maybe it was his task to restore it.

Thousands of eyes turned to him. His name was whispered across the large field, the God of War, the Demon Slayer, the sound travelling as quickly as the stormwind until it had reached the last row. Tens of thousands of Demon soldiers held their breath as the Celestial High God they all longed to kill appeared in front of them. The fear, the tension…it was palpable. And she…as soon as she became aware of his arrival, she drew closer, quickly - with the Yellow Bastard in tow.

Mo Yuan summoned Xuanyuan.

His sword humming in his hand, he swept his eyes over the rows and rows of immobile, staring Demon soldiers and chuckled. Maybe Fate had a sense of humor after all?

Shao Wan landed right in front of him. She looked fierce and beautiful in her tight red leather pants and the gold-studded coat of mail. Her almond shaped eyes underneath her plumed helmet were wide as she looked at him. Behind her, the Yellow Demon King touched down, his handsome face screwed up into a mask of hatred.

“You,” the Demon High Goddess said, and her face showed a curious mixture of fear and something else Mo Yuan could not quite read. Was she glad to see him? Or rather, glad to see him perish here.

A thrill went through Mo Yuan, like the lightning bolt of a heavenly trial. It was pure battle frenzy that descended upon him, the red-hot lust to kill. He had not often fought under its influence, and there were good reasons for that, but right now, he did not care about the price he would have to pay. The rage that had been boiling in him ever since the Demon Goddess had shattered his heart took over. Frantically, his head tried to stop him. Eighty thousand against one? Eighty thousand plus two Demon High Gods, one of which was already unfurling his vicious whip? He just laughed at them. They would all die. The world turned red in front of his eyes, as if it were already swimming in demon blood.

Get out of here! his head screamed, but it was no longer in control. Killing instinct took over completely as Mo Yuan transformed into his true form. The pain was excruciating as every bone in his body shattered and was newly assembled, but Mo Yuan the Dragon did not mind trifling pain. Mo Yuan the Dragon was an immensely powerful being that commanded the elements and spanned worlds.

The last thing Mo Yuan saw before his human awareness faded completely was Shao Wan’s face, now only showing deep fear - mixed with something he could not quite read.

Chapter 61