Fanfiction: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan - Chapter 68 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 68

written by kakashi
edited by Panda

“None of those shenanigans again,” Shao Wan said sharply from the couch at the window, “I know you are aware I’m here.”

The Purple Queen Yi Mei Niang lifted her head from her lover’s breast. “Ancestor,” she said with a brash smile, “again you appear in my bedroom to interrupt my lovemaking, do I need to assume you seek special adventures here?”

“I don’t have enough time for such things,” Shao Wan said gruffly, “but I am amazed you are still alive. Your security is a disgrace.”

“Ah,” said Yi Mei Niang, “but I told them to let you through if you came for another visit. I am quite attached to my guards and don’t want them to die trying to stop you.”

The Purple Queen swung her legs out of bed and put on a splendid green dressing gown and fur-lined snow-white slippers. “You can wait here,” she told the woman underneath the sheets, “we are not done yet.” Her eyes slowly travelled down her lover’s body. “Definitely not done.”

The Purple Queen then turned to Shao Wan: “Demon Ancestor, can I invite you for some breakfast in my guest room? You look like you could use some special delicacies from my kitchens.”

Shao Wan nodded gracefully in acceptance. Yes, she felt drained of energy and apparently, it showed, even though she had taken extra care with her make-up this morning. At least, she was not in pain presently. She suspected it had something to do with the mysterious peaches that Mo Yuan had pressed on her. She had eaten one not too long ago and whatever Zhe Yan had hidden in them, it clearly helped to lessen the effects of the poison in her system. That Zhe Yan might have found the antidote filled her with hope - desperate, raw hope. It was not that she particularly feared dying - but being at Cheng Yin’s mercy, that she feared.

It had only been a few days since she had woken up on her own bed, in severe pain and rather disoriented, with all her guards around her. She had quickly learned from Yue - who was wounded, like most of the others - that they had collected her at Zhe Yan’s after receiving a message from Donghua Dijun. Later, she had found a tiny slip of paper from Zhe Yan in her sleeve pocket: “Come see me,” it read.

She had not asked her guards about the God of War, because she knew he had died by her hand. She had seen him take his last breath, after bleeding out from the fatal wound she had given him. Stabbed cleanly through the heart - he had not even tried to dodge her sword. At the memory, her own heart had felt like it had shattered into tiny, prickly shards and she struggled hard to keep back her tears from flowing in front of these younglings - how would she explain her sadness? They would just be needlessly concerned.

She had grieved for Mo Yuan for a whole day, in miserable silence. Only when she had visited Fong Hung in his secret cave at night, to use his saliva to slow Cheng Yin’s poison, had she allowed her tears to flow unrestrained. The world felt so empty, so dreary, she did not know how to continue.

Fong Hung had licked her wound and then her face, until the tears had stopped.

“Can you grow and cultivate faster,” she had begged, “I am so alone. I need… I need someone to lean on, just from time to time, Fong Hung, I never knew that before, but I miss… I miss him so much.”

The toad had croaked excitedly and then, after a deep breath, he had said: “老鼠. Lǎo...shǔ. Laoshu! Laoshu!”

Remembering that time at the orchard had made her eyes water again, even though she had cursed the Celestial for his despicable rudeness back then. What did Fong Hung mean? “Is there a mouse here, bothering you?” she had asked, wrinkling her nose, she didn’t like those creatures, and had looked around carefully for an intruder. She could not find a mouse in the tiny cave though, as expected: She had put up powerful spells to prevent anyone or anything unwelcome from finding or entering the cave. That night, she had fallen asleep next to Fong Hung. And the next day, she had decided to sleep in Fong Hung’s cave often from now on - it felt safe.

The Purple Queen had excellent taste, her castle was magnificent and Yi Mei Niang’s garden looked and smelled just as splendid as the other two times Shao Wan had visited. “I would probably never leave this room if I lived here,” Shao Wan said and inhaled deeply, “it is a stunning garden you have.”

“You were invited to live here,” the Purple Queen shrugged, “a shame you did never get the chance to take up the offer. I feel we would all be happier if you had.”

Happier? Would she be happier if she had not stayed at Kunlun? If she had no blasted Celestial worrying her and bothering her at the same time? She did not begrudge him the tears she had shed for him, but she was embarrassed about them. Sentimentality was not something she was used to - and the God of War would certainly shake his head at her and call her a silly woman. Shao Wan sat down on the cushions and looked at the lavish selection of dishes the servants were putting on the table. Her mouth watered and her stomach growled. When had she eaten the last proper meal?

“Why are you here, venerated Ancestor?” Yi Mei Niang asked and gracefully gestured for Shao Wan to help herself. A servant appeared at her arm and filled her goblet with wine.

“I have come to return the bodyguards and get a refund,” Shao Wan said and accepted a bowl of a soup smelling of lemongrass and spices from one of the maids, “they are completely useless. And I assume you have amused yourself on my account long enough.”

“I am not amused,” said Yi Mei Niang and she did not sound it.

“I have not been able to find out who among them is reporting to you, so they have that going for themselves at least.”

“They have stopped reporting to me a while ago, despite my orders. You inspire loyalties, Ancestor, you always have.”

Shao Wan lifted the goblet to her lips and took a sip … and spat the wine out instantly.

“I knew it,” Yi Mei Niang said icily, “it was you.”

The Purple Queen had served Shao Wan her own fighting-pit wine. She looked very angry when she said: “You destroyed part of my business. And you even got the ingredients from my garden, am I right? You were clever to buy several plants that time, but I did make inquiries and I think I know which one is making this wine especially ‘desirable’.”

Shao Wan shrugged. For a business woman, Yi Mei Niang sure was a sore loser. She would not tell her she had planned to stop selling the wine anyway.

“Give back the bodyguards?”, the Purple Queen continued, “under the circumstances, I cannot agree to it. They are damaged goods. More than half of them got wounded rather severely during your confrontation with the God of War and they’re imprinted on you to a degree that makes them useless for other services, unless I invest a lot of time in them.”

Shao Wan shrugged again. “If you want to be unreasonable, then I will make sure people will hear about the poor quality of your goods. Do you know how disobedient they are? If I had not protected them, they would be dead!”

The Purple Queen pressed her lips together. “You cannot expect guards to hold up against the God of War.”

“Yes, and that’s why they’re completely useless. Fine, don’t give me a refund, but take them off my back and make sure they don’t do anything silly. They’re a burden!”

“You just didn’t use them properly,” the Purple Queen said testily, “for that price, you got specimen trained to thoroughly please. But you did not look at them even once.”

“You must have been temporarily deaf when I said I want them uninterested in women?”

“Oh, quite the contrary. I heard you loud and clear. And I immediately suspected why you would ask me for that.”

Shao Wan did not particularly like to hear that Yi Mei Niang was suspecting her: The woman was too smart. While she had put all her energies into keeping Cheng Yin in check, she had underestimated the Purple Queen, and now she had to deal with the backlash.

“I also went to see the God of War,” Yi Mei Niang said, “more than once. I have been testing him too. He’s a tough nut to crack, that one, but I am pretty sure you’ve cracked him. He obviously cannot kill you out of sentimentality and a simple mention of your name in combination with Cheng Yin’s makes his blood boil. He doesn’t show emotion often, but that anger? Scary and delicious.”

Should she quieten the younger woman before she could say more, Shao Wan wondered, even though part of her wanted her to continue? Shao Wan suddenly felt...nervous. Yes, she had to admit it, the situation with the God of War was one big mess and she had had to realize that all she had done so far to keep him out of her life had not led to the desired result. Quite the opposite, actually.

When she had returned in the morning after spending the night in Fong Hung’s cave, she had found a missive from the God of War at her palace. While her head had raced to comprehend this, her face had shown no emotions at all - she had learned from the best, after all. Carefully, she had inquired about who had brought the message, by what ways they needed to return an answer and then, casually, she had asked about how the God of War had fared in their recent confrontation.

She had been told that they had disappeared together into the skies, had left the mortal realm, and had thereby thrown her guards into a desperate frenzy. Before Donghua’s messenger had found them, the useless boys had had no clue where to look for her. Apparently, it had been Mo Yuan who had carried her out of Zhe Yan’s hut. Her guards had said that he had looked dangerous and fierce and they had been afraid of having to fight him in their weakened stated. But he had not tried to hold her prisoner, had not shown aggression, but had just handed her over solemnly. They grudgingly admitted that he had impressed them with his calm, yet commanding presence and then had vowed eagerly to take great pleasure in killing him the next time they met.

Mo Yuan was not dead, her heart had sung, Mo Yuan was not dead, her head echoed in confusion. What she had believed to be reality must have been an especially vivid dream? She did not have such dreams often, but they usually came to her in times of great trouble - they were never quite premonitions, but always a warning. Still, she had allowed a tiny smile to appear on her face and the guards had been happy, because they had believed the smile was praise for them.

Mo Yuan was not dead - and he had not taken her feather. It still hung around her neck on a silver chain, enchanted with a spell to protect it from thieves. Since Zhe Yan had dressed her in white, plain clothes after her transformation, he must have seen it. And he must have told Mo Yuan, who was powerful enough to break her spell if he tried. But he had not. What did it mean?

During the “peace meeting” she had felt a mixture of great nervousness tinged with irritation, even anger. Seeing him standing there and feeling his powerful aura had made her heart beat very fast. She had not looked at him, for fear of giving away her inner turmoil. That he was alive was still incomprehensible to a tender part of her. Another, more dominant part of her wanted to scream at him and beat him to a pulp.

His behavior confused her and she hated it. She did not understand his intentions, to the degree that she was almost glad someone like the Purple Queen meddled in their affairs and could offer an opinion of what it all meant. In his glorious true form, he had greatly inconvenienced her and she even felt embarrassed for how shamelessly he had sought her attention. Then, he had tried to kill her. It had cost her her entire strength to keep him from succeeding and her entire resolve not to break down and just let him do it. For what was the point of living if he hated her so much over so little? But then, he had tried to apologize for his hate, he had taken her hand and spoken sweet words to her, had even put her hand on his heart.

Trust him? She could not. She could not believe he was sincere, even though everything about him spoke of sincerity, his face, his eyes, his lips, his voice, and most of all his nervous, fast beating heart. But most importantly, she did not want this to be her reality. She could not deal with an enemy that confused her like this, that had power over her to such a degree. The only thing she could deal with was an enemy such as Cheng Yin, who had no hold over her feelings at all, apart from rousing her anger and her hate, giving her resolve and the will to kill.

“Let me be frank, Ancestor,” the Purple Queen said, popping some berries into her mouth, “I believe you two are still husband and wife, you two are in it together, playing all of us in a greater game.”

Shao Wan sniggered. Not that smart after all. “And what would that be?”

Yi Mei Niang shrugged. “That I’m not sure about yet. But I’m sure I’ll find out.”

“I like you,” Shao Wan said because it was true, “and you are very smart. I will stop selling my wine, Purple Queen, if you give me a fifth of your wine-selling revenues. I might even share a few tricks with you that I learned on Kunlun about making wines.”

Yi Mei Niang looked at her suspiciously. “Be on opposite sides during the war but business partners?”

Shao Wan nodded. “I see no issue with that. Just stay alive. Be business partners and give me a refund. Half the amount back? And I’ll keep two or three, to safeguard your reputation.”

The Purple Queen shook her head, but finally laughed. “They really could not please you. Are you sure you do not want to try them out before…”

“Who would want to grow attached to their guards?” Shao Wan interrupted her irritatedly. There would come a time she would move on. And when it came, there would be enough Demon males she could take to her bed. In batches.

Yi Mei Niang lifter her eyebrows. “Attached? The stories about you must be wrong. I did not know you would ever consider bonding with servants.”

Shao Wan thought it best to keep quiet and just eat the delicious food after this. It is true that I have grown a bit soft, she thought. The old me would have just killed all twelve and be done with it. Or maybe that was just another lie, one she liked to tell herself. Maybe she’d always been much too soft to stay in power for long. Or maybe softness came with age...from the vantage point of an advanced immortal life, all struggles over power and influence became meaningless. One had to ask: what was the point? She was sure that was exactly what had happened to Zhe Yan and Donghua. From the Old Gods, only Mo Yuan cared. He cared so much he did nothing else but worry about the Realms.

“So...what do you tell the God of War about Cheng Yin and me?” Shao Wan asked after cleaning out a bowl of soft-cooked meat with the last of the rice.

“That you’re very close and intimate,” Yi Mei Niang replied, “is that not the truth?”

No, it was not the truth and the Purple Queen seemed to know it.

“He lives in your guest wing, doesn’t he?”

Cheng Yin had been quite seriously injured by Mo Yuan - served him right, a wolf of Cheng Yin’s stature stood no chance against such a magnificent dragon. His doctors had heavily drugged him and drugged him so more when Shao Wan had immediately and grasped the opportunity of his weakness. She had moved him to her guest wing indeed, and she had made sure she got that splendid armor that night.

It had almost been too easy to trick Cheng Yin, somewhat lessening her feeling of triumph. Shao Wan had used a spell she had learned from Zhe Yan to change Mi Mai’s appearance and the maid had eagerly complied with Shao Wan’s instructions, since sleeping with the Yellow Demon King was something many Demon women desired. Cheng Yin was too out of it to notice the difference in body height and shape and too weakened to unleash any of his true brutality on Mi Mai. The result had been three happy people and a true treasure coming into Shao Wan’s possession.

When they had gone to the peace meeting with the Celestials together, the fool Cheng Yin, still high on elixirs, had almost looked in love with her. Smiling at him had been easy, even touching him had not been an issue. In fact, she felt like laughing. You will never have me, she thought. And I will not have to beg you for the antidote.

“You can keep telling the God of War these things,” Shao Wan said to the Purple Queen. “It’s beneficial for everyone if he is kept preoccupied with such trifle things. Else, he might develop another weapon to kill us all.”

The Purple Queen looked doubtful, but nodded.

“Do we have a deal?” Shao Wan asked and put her hands into her lap.

Yi Mei Niang slowly nodded again. Her eyes were wary, but full of respect when she said: “Yes. We have a deal.”

Chapter 69