Fanfiction: Ink in Water - Chapter 1 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 1. Fools Will Believe What They Want to Believe

written by Bunny
consulting by LigayaCroft
edited by Friend of Bunny

Outside, the wind howls like a chained and starved animal. Sending currents of snow through the entrance of the cave. The encompassing walls of ice glow a frigid shade of aquamarine with wisps of vapor that hover on the surface.

All around, the raw chill seeps in through her skin and wraps around her bones and tendons like poison. The smell of his skin—fresh rain mixed with earth—the only reminder of warmth in this icy abyss. Encapsulated in his arms, they share the remaining shreds of heat in their bodies. He has been channeling his energy to provide for them, but it is now dwindling. Occasionally his arms wrap a little tighter around her to make up for it.

In silence, she counts his every exhale that brushes against the tops of her lashes. Water drips from a nearby icicle and dives into the small puddle beneath it. It makes a chime each time. She can’t recall when it began, or when it will end. The intervals provide a semblance of time. But after enough intervals, time blurs towards an eternity. Maybe they will reach eternity, or maybe it’ll all be over soo—


Bai Qian blinked.

Two dark eyes were staring straight at her. Four walls of a bedchamber suddenly solidified in the periphery. Moyuan was sitting across the table. This was Kunlun Mountain.

“Shifu…” Eyes wide, she blinked a few more times to focus them. “W—Were you saying something?”

“That’s more than enough…”


His gaze moved from her down to the table between them, beckoning her to follow.


When Bai Qian looked down, her eyes almost dropped out of their sockets. A warm pot of tea was tipped sideways in her hand, its spout poured out steaming hot liquid that filled Moyuan’s cup and kept on pouring until it created a path along the table, down the edge, and onto his lap.

“Sh—Shifu!” Her face blanched like a sheet of paper. “I-I’m sorry!”

Floundering to gather her wits, she threw the pot down. It made a loud clunk as the ceramic bounced against the wood surface of the table. Bai Qian lunged up from her seat and rushed over to his side. Handkerchief, she needed a handkerchief. She bit down on her lip and looked around.

Moyuan sighed and conjured one with magic. It appeared on the table in front of them. Her knees plopped down miserably beside him as she snatched up the cloth to dry off the liquid that sat in his lap. The dark blue material he had on made it difficult for her to assess the damp spots and her hand wandered around a bit until she could locate them.

Seemingly unbothered, he silently watched her work and rewarded her with a slight curve of his lips. “Little Seventeenth, what were you daydreaming about?”

“Huh?” Bai Qian felt a heat climb onto her cheeks, her already flushed face became two shades redder. “Ah… I...”

She wished to know more than he. Where exactly did her mind go? It was like it had left her body entirely. Let it wander and wander it did, right into that cave.

Bai Qian pursed her lips together. Her hand stilled and rested on his lap. His one eyebrow was slightly arched, beckoning her to respond. What kind of answer was she supposed to give him? They could not talk about that. She thought it had carefully been sealed and buried in the back of her mind, yet it was now crawling its way out of its grave. Make something up. Think!

“What else would Seventeenth be thinking about, Shifu? Most likely about how much she is missing the Crown Prince...” Changshan interjected as he entered the room.

His arrival was like a vision of buddha in her eyes. Bai Qian did not even notice his teasing words and could only feel gratitude in her heart.

As he got closer, his hawk vision immediately took notice of the mess she made on the table. The empty teapot was still rolling on its side, and the runaway tea that branched out from the big puddle in the center continued to drip down the table’s edge.

“Seventeenth… what did you do? Don’t tell me that after all this time you’ve forgotten how to serve tea.”

A look of guilt plastered on her face as she sank deeper down into her knees. Bai Qian knew she could be clumsy but lately, it was as though she only had half a brain to function with.

Her attention moved back to Moyuan, who had taken on a dour expression, like he had just heard his enemy’s name brought up. Noticing that her hand was still resting on his lap, seemingly useless, she retrieved it back.

“What is it, Changshan?” He asked.

“Shifu, Dong Hua Dijun and Si Ming Xingjun have arrived. I’ve set up tea in the main hall. Please join us when you are ready.”

Moyuan nodded and began to stir from his seat. Bai Qian stayed planted on her knees and watched as he got up. She found herself inspecting his every movement. It was still too hard to believe, that the body in front of her now was the same one that laid motionless on that stone bed for what had felt like an eternity.

One month ago, the words ‘Mo Yuan’ and ‘return’ slipped out from Zhe Yan’s lips in the same sentence and in an instant, it was as though the Four Seas and Six Realms had been flipped on its head. Her fluxing emotions still ceased to be soothed. 70,000 years, they had been apart. Now, they were back on Kunlun Mountain, with everyone wearing the same familiar faces. It was as though time had reversed its course.

She should be happy. He appeared unchanged from the man who used to smile at her and call out ‘Little Seventeenth’ for all those years. But for some reason, it kept creeping up, this indescribable feeling that resembled sadness whenever she looked too closely at him.

“Come, Seventeenth. Do you intend to sit here and watch Shifu change out of the robe you just dirtied?”

Her head turned in the direction Moyuan had gone, he was already on the other side of the room untying the ties to his outer robe. Bai Qian retrieved her eyes at once and bolted up onto her feet, following on the heels of Changshan.

“It’s been only three days since Shifu’s been back and already we’ve been overrun with visitors!” Changshan sighed as they walked down the hall, “Seventeenth, I hope you’re not planning on leaving anytime soon, we can use all the tea pouring hands we’ve got.”

“Ah senior… You saw how clumsy I was. Best not to have me serve tea to our honored guests…” She squinted her crescent eyes up at him.

Changshan returned her a beaming smile like a ray of sunshine. “You are perfect for the task, Little Seventeenth… If you keep serving tea like that, maybe we can finally get some peace and quiet around here.”

Her face dropped. Since when did Kunlun Mountain, a Taoist sanctuary, home to the revered God of War, become a tea house that she had to serve at?! Bai Qian grumbled under her breath the whole way to the kitchen where Changshan loaded both her unwilling arms up with plates of refreshments, before scooting her out.

The awning chimes at the front entrance were swaying with mirth today, carried by a strong breeze that came from the East. Their ringing chorus filled the air with a lively tune. Bai Qian found her eyes drawn upward by them as she approached the steps leading into the main hall. One foot in front of the other, it was a simple enough task on most days, but today—today was a peculiar day. She had gotten the first two steps right, but missed the third step.

Two plates full of mung bean cakes and red bean cakes went twirling into the air as her body began to topple backward. One minute she was looking at swaying wind chimes and the next, she was staring straight up at an azure blue sky. Expecting to feel her head hit the ground a moment later, Bai Qian was surprised to find that her body had stilled in midair. There was something holding her up. It looped tightly around her waist. An arm?

Above her, the confections that went flying up earlier, were now on their way down. Bai Qian clamped her eyes shut and braced for the strikes, but they never came. She peeked with one eye and saw that another arm had appeared above her with a plate that caught all of the morsels in perfect arrangement. Her heart was racing out of her chest, she had to take two deep breaths to still it.

When she prepared to pull herself up, Bai Qian was surprised to find that the arm holding her was narrowing tighter to keep her still. The hand belonging to it, tenderly squeezing her flesh. Unbelievable!

She started to struggle until a young man’s face finally came into view. Long gray hair, jade-like skin, striking features that far surpassed even godly standards, and a pair of shining emerald eyes.

“Ah, how many years have we parted for, beauty? I’ve finally caught you…” The melodic words dripped like honey from his tongue.

“You—!” Bai Qian couldn’t believe her eyes. “W-Why it is you?!”

A string of loud coughs suddenly erupted from within the hall. Bai Qian flipped her head to the other side and saw about twenty pairs of round eyes fixed in her direction. Her captivated audience appeared motionless in their seats. Her eyes flickered between the many faces and all the blood rushed to her head at once.

Bai Zhen was shaking his head, Zhe Yan was suppressing a snicker, Dong Hua Dijun casually raised an eyebrow, her First senior swallowed nervously, and Si Ming was most likely already writing a retelling of this scene in his head.

In a calm voice, Moyuan broke the silence. “Xiao Yu, it’s been a while… Come, join us.”

As soon as he recognized who was speaking, her captor immediately unfurled his arm from her waist and tossed her to the side. Those green eyes were now aimed straight at Moyuan and glimmered like a child’s. He handed the plate of cakes he had caught earlier haphazardly to her and took off with arms outstretched. The pure white robe he had on floated like a cloud down the length of the hall.


Bai Zhen, who was seated next to Zhe Yan, sprayed a mist of tea out of his mouth and onto the other’s face.

“You’ve come back to me! Left without a single warning, you cold hearted scoundrel…” Xiao Yu reached Moyuan’s dais and plopped right down onto it next to him, not leaving a gap between them. He twirled a jade flute in his hand, and when the word ‘scoundrel’ left his mouth, it smacked down on Moyuan’s lap. “Who told you to build that blasted bell?! And so eager to sacrifice yourself, huh? Has there ever been a bigger fool?”

Bai Qian’s lip twitched. Her seniors all looked like they had just seen a ghost. Has there ever been a person that dared to strike and scold the God of War?

She had to remind herself that this man… was a special case. It had been some 90,000 years since she had seen him last, but there was no way to forget this sort of person. Her Shifu, being the all powerful god that he was, stood utterly helpless against him.

“Xiao Yu, have you been well?” He asked.

“If by well you mean wandering the Six Realms and drifting like a leaf in the wind because of how much I’ve missed you, then yes.”

“Haven’t you always… wandered the realms?”

“…Yes.” He pondered it for half a second, “But never mind that! Now that you’re back, I’ve decided to come stay with you!”

Xiao Yu’s happy chirping made its way into Bai Qian’s ears as she walked into the hall, she froze and shot her upturned eyes at him. “Over my dead body you will!”

He turned to Moyuan and sighed, “She still has the same temper, no?”


“Beauty… I know you must be jealous, but Yuan-Yuan has been mine since before you were even born.” He simpered, “Besides, you already have yourself one of Father Immortal’s twins, you can’t have them both you know…”

How does he already know about Shifu and Ye Hua?

She glowered at him. “What nonsense are you spouting off, you old pervert?”

“What? Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it. Maybe you were thinking of trading one for the other?” He rose from his seat and fluidly made his way over to her. “Or unless… it’s me that you want, in which case, we can figure out an arrangement.”


Her feet began to backtrack but he caught up soon enough. With one hand, he strung the front section of her hair around his fingers, while the other hand lifted her chin up to face him.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk. Look at this face, it has gotten this stunning… You were just a furball back then, how could I have known?”

She was rendered motionless. Those deep green eyes like pools of water were bearing into her. In her head, Bai Qian wanted push him away, but for some reason, her entire body had gone limp just by looking at him. His face kept nearing until it was breath away from hers.

Moyuan cleared his throat, “Xiao Yu…”

He twisted his head around and grinned, “Don’t be impatient Yuan-Yuan, there’s enough of me to go around!”

Bai Qian’s eye was now twitching. Someone like this, actually existed, and had lived for this long! How miraculous the Heavens were...

He had let her go soon after and returned to Moyuan’s side. The latter was looking evermore listless by the minute. Bai Qian staggered and set a hand on her chest, her heart was hammering away again. Zhe Yan, who sat across the walkway watching the scene unfold, was now stifling his laughter so hard that he was turning blue in the face.

“Old Phoenix, is that you? And Hua-Hua is here too?” Xiao Yu’s head swiveled back and forth between Dong Hua Dijun and Zhe Yan with delight. It was as though he had just now been made aware that there were other people in the room. All other parties besides the ones addressed, were sitting mouth agape. None of them able to process how Dong Hua Dijun’s name had been shortened to this extent.

“Rascal,” Zhe Yan smirked, “I’ve been trying to find your whereabouts all these years, how did you manage to not leave any traces?”

“You can’t go to the wind, it can only come to you.” Said a lounging Dong Hua Dijun.

Bai Qian rolled her eyes. This was no wind, this was a tornado.

“Beauty, I’m parched! Can I have some tea?”

She was just preparing to sit down when his voice stopped her halfway in her seat. Bai Qian shot him a look of murderous intent, about ready to grab the pot of tea and serve it down his throat. But beside him, Moyuan was looking at her with tired eyes, almost pleading.

Begrudgingly, the tea was brought and poured for him. She then moved over to refill Moyuan’s cup as well.

“Aiya, to have such a beauty serving tea for you everyday Yuan-Yuan, why wasn’t I born with your luck?” He blew on his tea and eyed her, “Beauty, why don’t you come and be my disciple instead? I’ll teach you things your Shifu here wouldn’t dare to teach you…”

Bai Qian was about to lunge toward him with the teapot when Moyuan stuck his arm out and caught her by the waist. He turned to a sniggering Xiao Yu, “I’m afraid you wouldn’t want this disciple of mine, she has always been a bit… unruly.”

“Ah, but taming her would be the best part.”

How dare they talk about her as though she were some sort of wild animal! She gritted her teeth and glared daggers at the both of them, steam collecting in the caverns of her ears. Moyuan’s outstretched hand gently tapped her side in an attempt to calm her. Xiao Yu didn’t seem to notice at all, he reached across Moyuan to pick up a mung bean cake from the nearby table and bit off half of it before holding the other half up in front of the other’s face. Moyuan politely shook his head.

“This person… Always disregarding other people’s affections.” He said with a chewing mouth, “I remember in our school days, Yue’er used to labor away making you sweets, you never accepted them once. In the end, I had to eat them all. Why that girl never figured out you don’t like sweets, I don’t know.”

“Princess Ying Yue? Have you seen her?” Zhe Yan asked, “She disappeared about 30,000 years ago without a word. Her father has been tearing the Six Realms apart looking for her since.”

Bai Qian felt her skin prickle at the sound of that name.

“No, I haven’t seen or heard a thing… It is quite the mystery.” Xiao Yu replied, then turned over to Moyuan, “What I did hear was that the little brat had tried to barge into the Ghost Realm to wage a war shortly after what happened to you. Barely escaped with her life… Such devotion, that one.”

Moyuan’s face darkened.

“Ying Yue… The name sounds familiar.” Dong Hua said, swiveling his tea cup in his hand.

“Only daughter of the Ruler of Fenyi kingdom and future queen of the Serpent Clan.” Said Si Ming, who had been waiting for the opportunity to chime in, “Dijun, you may not remember her, but she was also under Father Immortal’s tutelage.”

“Ah, that one…” Dong Hua seemed clearly amused. “A calamitous beauty as I recall. Didn’t she want to serve herself to you on a platter, Moyuan?”

“My poor Yuan-Yuan had to fight them all off with a stick back then! It’s not easy having this sort of face and being the son of Father Immortal.”

“Xiao Yu, if I remember correctly… wasn’t it always you holding the stick?” Zhe Yan quipped.

As they bantered on, Bai Qian walked dazedly back to her seat. She continued to listen with one ear while trying to sort through her memories of that princess Ying Yue. They had met once before, the same time she met Xiao Yu. That time, she had accompanied Moyuan on a trip to the Southern Lands in her second year as his disciple. It seemed to be Heaven’s will that these events would be recalled today. First the flashback, then the unexpected appearance of the Tornado Storm, and now this princess… The last thing she needed was for someone to actually mention—

“Yuan-Yuan, I must say, I was surprised to hear that you had a twin, but more surprised to hear that your Seventeenth disciple has been snatched up by him. That year on Mount Qinyao, Beauty was just a pup at the time, but after what happened I had assumed that the two of you—”


Moyuan had dropped his teacup holding hand down onto the armrest beside him. The loud sound echoed through the hall, leaving behind a stone cold silence. Bai Qian felt a quiver run through her body. Her eyes turned to him. His pale face was looking even paler, and those dark eyes appeared even darker. They swept toward her and lingered for a moment, heavy as a storm cloud brewing.

This bag of memories, it had been dug up and handed to her today. She had been carrying it around, not wanting anyone to notice, especially him. Yet, somehow, it managed to get knocked right out of her hands. Its contents were now spilled out on the floor between them.

“Oh, have I said too much?” Xiao Yu tapped his mouth with his flute a few times.

“How are you feeling, Moyuan?” Zhe Yan seemed to have taken notice of his pallor. “Be mindful of your energy, you don’t have a lot of it left. If you feel tired, you should rest.”

Moyuan slowly nodded and turned to Xiao Yu, “You may stay here as long as you like, think of Kunlun Mountain as your home. Dong Hua, Zhe Yan, the both of you as well. I will retire for now, we will catch up soon.”

The room continued to be silent as he got up. When he walked past her, their eyes refused to meet. How many times did they do that in the days and months following their return from that trip?

She listened as his footsteps drummed on and faded away. Xiao Yu, who was still sitting in Moyuan’s spot, soon resumed his chatter with the others. Her seniors began to disperse and go about their way. But all came to a halt when a cry came bellowing out from the inner hall.

“Shifu!! What’s wrong, Shifu?!”

Zhe Yan’s face immediately changed color as he shot up from his seat. There was rarely an occasion that someone like the Old Phoenix would put on such an expression, and the moment she saw it, Bai Qian’s heart fell down to her feet. She watched with eyes glazed over as he bolted past her. The remaining bodies in the room all leapt up one after another to follow, leaving her the last one behind.

A part of her already knew what was waiting in that hallway. That must be why her feet were unwilling to take her there. When they eventually gave in, they loitered at the edge of the crowd that formed around him. The words thrown back and forth in a flurry, confirmed her intuition. Between the cracks of their hovering bodies, she could already see.

How many more times did she need to see it?

His body, slumped on the ground, motionless.

There are some things in this world that are just too good to be true. But fools will believe what they want to believe, up until the moment the illusion slips.

Chapter 2