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


Author: Bunny
Consultant: Ligayacroft
Editor: Kakashi

Year 402,000
(72,000 years after the Ghost War)

Against the backdrop of dead silence, the thud of her feet as they dropped on the wood floor, reverberated through the Hall of Beautiful Youth. A sharp chill had roused Bai Qian from sleep and caused the small hairs on the back of her neck to stand on end. Leaning over the edge of the bed, she picked up her outer robe from the nearby rack and threw it around herself, quickly fastening the ties.

“Nai Nai?”

It was uncomfortably quiet. How long had she slept for? Telling time was still a challenge. The days were neverending here in Jiuchongtian. With the absence of night, pastel-colored clouds hung relentlessly in the blushing sky like an unchanging watercolor painting that was adhered to every window. It was haunting.

Due to the static nature of the sights, sounds and smells here, even the slightest inconsistency was conspicuous. Today, it was the stillness in the air.

Slowly getting off the bed, she moved toward the center of the room. As her eyes adjusted, the four corners of her chamber sharpened into view. It was swathed in the same slits of sunlight that filtered through the lacquered panels on each side, illuminating the specks of dust that hovered in the negative space. Even the dust here had a certain glimmer to it. Not a thing was out of place. Except a scent. It stood out from the usual smell of incense, yet too faint to be recognizable.

Her maidservants were nowhere to be seen. They should have swarmed her by now and begun their methodical grooming rituals. Though they were smothering at times, their absence was wholly disturbing. The candles in the room had quivering flames, despite the lack of a breeze. By the entrance of her chamber, the usual shadow of a line of guards standing right outside the door was also missing. Her stomach churned.

Could there be a special occasion? A visiting god or buddha drawing a crowd while she was asleep? Bai Qian summoned the Jade Purity Fan in the palm of her hand and constricted her fingers around it. No. Even if Father Immortal himself had risen from the Realm of Nothingness, Nai Nai would still be here with her.

She took slow, heedful steps toward the door. The moment half her body breached the doorway, a light breeze danced across the bridge of her nose, while the tip of a cold blade grazed the side of her neck.

“Not another step.” Said a raspy voice she didn’t recognize.

Her gaze was held hostage, aiming straight ahead. It was then that the sight in the courtyard hit her. Flowering peach trees on either side of the front gate were bursting with blossoms. In her memory they were pink, but today, there were red petals mixed in. Below were the bodies of her maidservants, laid face down in the dirt. The smell from earlier, now apparent. Pools of blood crept out from beneath their familiar faces.

“It looks like I’ve fished the right pond, if it isn’t the Heavenly Empress herself...”

She tried to bring her eyes over to the man, while keeping her neck in place. He was dressed in all black with a hooded robe covering the top half of his face.

“It must be my lucky day. Is Jiuchongtian always this poorly guarded?”

He was not wrong. Recently, many of the palace guards have been reassigned from their posts and integrated into the Celestial army. There had been talk of mounting restlessness throughout the immortal realms ever since the new Tianjun was crowned. Nai Nai had just brought to her attention yesterday that Ye Hua and his Third uncle had left in a hurry to resolve a conflict at the Southern border.

Who was this man? His arrival shortly after Ye Hua’s departure was well timed. Had he come specifically for her? What about the rest of Jiuchongtian?

Her mind peppered with questions. His blade, now pressed into the skin of her neck, caused it to dimple and drew forth a droplet of blood. Tightening her grip on the Jade Purity Fan, Bai Qian gritted her teeth, anticipating the precise moment to make a move. There was a gust of wind. The man’s rigid face flinched ever so slightly in reaction to it, providing a split second gap of distraction for her. The moment he detected her sudden movement, his sword swung forward. She arched her back and slipped herself beneath his blade. Using the fan, she dispersed a surge of energy upward that sent the man’s body slamming against the screen behind him. The wooden frame snapped in half as it collapsed. He was still standing, but forced to stumble a few steps back.

In the time that took for him to gain his footing again, Bai Qian had spun down to the center of the courtyard. Holding the fan at her side, she commanded it into a sword and aimed it at him. The hooded man now stood behind the railing above her, calmly brushing the debris off of his robe.

“Who are you?” Her eyes narrowed, “Who sent you?”

“Hmm… if I tell you, that’ll ruin the fun.” His voice was melodic and menacing. All that was visible on his face, was a pair of thin lips forming a sinister smirk under the shadow of his hood.

Her pulse hammered, but she hid her anxiety under a rigid glare. Drawing her body back, she prepared to attack, but froze at the sound of footsteps coming from outside the entrance.

“Your Highness!!!”

Her head swung around toward the voices, taking her eyes off of the hooded man. The moment she saw a group of Celestial guards arrived by the gate, he had already released a beam of energy that came charging in her direction. The blinding white light, hit faster than expected. She was able to conjure a sliver of energy to push back, but not enough to defuse the ripping pain that tore through her chest upon impact. In the same moment, a pair of grasping hands came from behind and pulled her out of the way, preventing her from receiving the full blow. The guards behind, left to receive the remainder of the blast, all collapsed in a heap.

Bai Qian also crumpled to the ground. Blood dripped from her lips and pooled on the stone walkway. There was no apparent wound but her insides felt like they had been shredded.


Her eyes were still adjusting as he pulled her up, but she recognized that voice.

“Sixteenth senior?!”

In an instant, they were surrounded by a swarm of shadows. At least a dozen more hooded men appeared, trapping them in a circular formation. Bai Qian tried to stabilize herself and stood with her back against Zi Lan.

“Why are you here?!”

“Is this really the time for small talk Seventeenth?”

The metal from their drawn weapons clashed together all at once. The mysterious men moved with incredible speed around them. She could barely keep her feet steady. The sword fight was not to her advantage. With a flip of her wrist, she returned the sword back to its fan form. Using all the power she could afford, the fan was sent spinning toward the shadowy figures, scattering them back far enough for her and Zi Lan to conjure a disappearing spell.

“Sixteenth senior, what’s going on?! Do you know who those men are?”

They landed in the alleyway outside her residence. It was empty. Bai Qian gripped her chest and almost doubled over in pain.

“I thought for a moment that they were members of the demon clan, but I couldn’t detect any demon energy.”

“I couldn’t either, not a trace of any energy.”

She pulled herself together and looked around, there didn’t seem to be anyone following them. Quickly untying her outer robe, she threw it onto the ground before following behind Zi Lan. Ever since she took the position of Heavenly Empress, the weight of her responsibilities did not seem to increase nearly as much as the weight of her wardrobe.

“Sixteenth senior, how did you know to come find me?”

“Shifu sent me. He predicted an attack on Jiuchongtian today.”

Bai Qian was unfastening the heavy hair ornaments that felt like they had been embedded into her skull, when her working hand froze at the sound of that word. “Shifu… Where is he now, is he alright?”


As they rounded the corner into one of the inner corridors, the sight of the hallway ahead stopped them dead in their tracks. It had become clear to her now that Jiuchongtian had indeed been ambushed. The God of War had effectively used that sixth sense of his again.

Bodies littered the ground, streaks of fresh dripping blood painted the silk screens on either side. This was the work of an army, but where were the perpetrators? There was not a moving shadow in sight. Backing up slowly, they moved onto another hallway. It was the same mirror image as the last. She quivered at the sight of the mangled bodies carpeting the walkway. A sweet metallic pungency filled her nostrils.

“We need to get out of here, now.” Zi Lan grabbed ahold of her wrist. He had to physically pull her along as Bai Qian felt her legs stiffen up from a mixture of pain and fear.

Once outside, they climbed onto the bridge above the Lotus Pond. She looked down at the white lotuses that floated idly by below, they were oblivious to the mayhem above them. On the surface of the still water, was a reflection of Lengxiao Palace, the ornate pagoda was engulfed in flames. A piercing shriek erupted from within, then seeped away in silence. She watched as specks of colorful silk brocade was tossed down the length of the long stairway. Celestial bodies? It was a sight unimaginable. Since when did heaven look so much like a vision of hell?

Prepared to fly over, her heels had lifted off the ground, only to be planted down by the hand on her shoulder. “What are you doing, Seventeenth?! We have to get out of here!” Zi Lan barked, “Besides, those celestials have never been kind to you anyway!”

There was truth to his words. Even though Bai Qian had learned to feign politeness over the years, it was still impossible to fully let go of the ugly past between her and the Celestial royal family. However, to leave them in this chaos, what kind of god would she be?

“Don’t be stupid! Look at you! Even if you rush in there now, you can’t save them.” His voice rang loud and clear in her ears. “Do you understand the gravity of the situation Seventeenth? Think about your priorities, we are in a war now!”

All other thoughts came to screeching halt. Her eyes widened as she took in those last words.

“We need to go find Shifu!” He continued, “It looked like he was about to go do some ill-prepared, self-sacrificial thing again right before he sent me off Kunlun.”


“He took the rest of our seniors, donning battle gear, and headed East.”

Of course. At the sound of the word ‘war’ being uttered, she had already imagined that person’s face in the middle of a battlefield. Staring dazedly at Zi Lan, Bai Qian felt her throat go dry.

He grabbed onto her arm again and jerked her forward. Her reluctant feet were forced to match the pace of his as they made their way to the main gate of Jiuchongtian. More bodies of Celestial guards were piled up on either side.


A faceless army in black armor was flying in from behind. They congregated like a swarm of insects. Watching them, her eyes started to blur over. She wobbled back onto Zi Lan, who grabbed onto her. He clicked his tongue in frustration and lifted her up with him as they flew to the nearest cloud.

“We need to head to Qing Qiu,” She muttered breathlessly as they flew above the clouds.

“Qing Qiu?! Are you going to be able to last that long Seventeenth? Your injuries aren’t minor!”

“I’ll be fine. I need to see my family. Also, you said Shifu was heading East, so it’s possible he could be there now.”

“That… makes sense.” Zi Lan looked surprised.

“When have I ever not made sense?” She threw him a glare.

He was about to retort but stayed silent, his face softening.

“What is it?” Bai Qian was surprised he didn’t quip back at her.

“Seventeenth, it’s been a while...” A sad smile suddenly took over his face, “I’ve missed you. Try not die on me.”

“Senior, try not to jinx me.” She elbowed him and caused a smirk.

“You know, even Shifu’s cranes that you used to torture have been missing you these days.” He chuckled. “I still don’t know what exactly happened between you and Shifu… But it’s been this long, is it bad enough that you won’t come back to—”

Bai Qian quickly tapped her fan to his lips, cutting off his sentence. She began to feel nauseous. Unsure if it was due to her injuries, or from the feeling she was just reminded of.

“That person… will always be my Shifu.” She showed him a smile, “You and our seniors, will always be my beloved disciple brothers. That won’t change, even if I’m not there.”

Her head lowered to hide the expression that followed. “Maybe one day, when enough dust has settled on the past, I’ll be able to step foot on Kunlun Mountain without hesitation.”


It was sundown by the time they landed at the border of Qing Qiu. Bai Qian felt right at home the moment the crisp mountain air hit her cheeks. The darkness of night was strangely comforting, a sight she hadn’t seen in so long. Although her parents had made their visits to Jiuchongtian often, she had not had the chance to come home since the events leading up to the wedding.

Standing on Mount Yuze, looking down at the village by Yueya Bay, everything appeared in place. But it was drenched over with the same stillness that made her apprehensive.

“This isn’t right.” She shook her head and began to stumble down the mountain in haste. Zi Lan followed quickly behind. “Slow down, Seventeenth!”

As she surveyed the land along the familiar pathway beside Lake Wangsheng, a strange energy hung overhead. Qing Qiu appeared deserted.

“Mother! Father! Fourth brother!” She whipped her head around in search. “Migu! Fengjiu?!”

“Seventeenth, over here!” Zi Lan called out, “It’s our seniors!”

She ran over to where he stood, her eyes immediately caught by the unmistakable white Kunlun armor that stood out in the dark haziness of that grassy field. There were a dozen of her seniors defending against what appeared to be, her entire kingdom. The normally mild-mannered and gentle people of Qing Qiu were clawing their way through each other, fighting feverishly without regard. Each of her seniors had their own mob encircling them.

“STOP!” She hurled toward the crowd. Her skin crawled at the sight of them. Not a single one reacted.

“Seventeenth!” said her seniors in unison.

“Your clan members seem to be possessed!” Said her First senior, who tried to explain while dodging an swinging ax. “Something’s is not right about them! We’ve been trying to fend them off without hurting them, but I’m not sure how much longer we can go on!”

Possessed? Bai Qian eyed the crowd and spotted the back of Migu. Overjoyed, she ran toward him and pulled him away. With both hands, she held onto his shoulders and looked him up and down.

“Migu! What’s going on?!”

His eyes, completely blackened over, stared straight past her.

“Hey! Answer me! Migu?” She shook him lightly. No response. Suddenly, he brought his arm up. A tree branch was held in his hand, its end was broken to a point. She stared dazedly as he continued to lift it above her head, until he finally plunged it downward.

A blade sliced into the hair’s width distance that stood between her forehead and the incoming tip of the branch, just in time to block it. A thrust of the blade managed to send Migu stumbling back. Bai Qian looked up to see Bai Zhen’s exasperated face.

“Fourth brother!” Overwhelmed by both shock and relief, her eyes began collecting tears. “You’re here… Where’s the rest of our family?!”

“I don’t know… Zhe Yan and I just got here moments before you did.” He fended off another possessed body that came running in their direction. Another swarm began to form around them. “Die Feng is right, they all seem to be under some kind of spell.”

“First senior! Where is Shifu?” Zi Lan yelled out.

“He was just here… fighting with a man in a hood!”

She froze. Was it the same perpetrator they had encountered in Jiuchongtian? And he was here. She needed to find him.

“What direction did they go in?”

“Toward the lake!” Die Feng shouted. His voice, haggard and out of breath.

“Fourth brother, please stay here and help them!”

“Wait, Xiao Wu!” By the time Bai Zhen called out to her, Bai Qian was already out of sight.

As she trailed the embankment of the lake, she had one hand gripping her chest, and the other gripping the Jade Purity Fan that was now burning in her palm. A strong current of air pushed back on her with every step she took. Suddenly, a few sparks of light lit up on the opposite shore.

The wind picked up the layers of her gown, it flew wildly around as she stood searching across the water. White silk marbled against inky hair, and through the strands that blew in front of her eyes, she saw him.

How much time had gone by? 100 years? 200 years? No, it was more than that.

The length of water that stood between them was no short distance, but it didn’t matter. Even with his back to her, the outline of him, she had it memorized by heart.

Mo Yuan stood opposite of a man in a hooded robe. Both of them held their blades up against each other as they channeled equal and opposing energy into them. Who was this man that could go neck to neck with the God of War? The bright light that pushed against Moyuan was the same as what had hit her earlier.

She wanted to call out to him, but hesitated. Moyuan turned his head around like he had sensed her regardless. Their eyes met in the air, as though there was an invisible thread pulled taut between them. Bai Qian wondered if perhaps, someone had taken the insides out of her stomach in that very moment and tied them into a hundred knots. She could hardly breathe.

Everything from that point on, happened all too fast.

A shower of arrows suddenly broke through the air, raining down on both sides of the lake. With her fan, she deflected enough of them to spare her vital parts from getting hit, leaving the damage superficial to her limbs. Her gaze went straight back to the two figures across the water.

Like statues they stood in the exact same position, neither had withdrawn his sword. Their bodies were now skewered with arrows.

She staggered, her own body dropped down to the ground. Numb. His name hung at the tip of her tongue, but wouldn’t come out.

A second shower of arrows immediately followed, carrying flames this time. Her knees stayed glued to the dirt beneath them. She couldn’t move. Where were her feet? She couldn’t feel them. Maybe they had cramped up. Maybe she didn’t have feet. Nothing made sense.

As the sky filled up with specks of fire, Moyuan whipped his head around again and pierced her with his eyes.

“GET UP!” He roared at her.

Paralyzed, she could only watch as his body flinched to take one arrow after another.

“Bai Qian!” Her father’s voice came ringing through her ears, snapping her out of her trance. His familiar figure appeared from behind and pulled her up to her feet. With a wave of his hand, the arrows that were raining down on them dispersed and littered the ground. She twisted her head back to look at him, all the tears that had been refusing to fall began to spill.

She grabbed onto his arm with both hands, “Father! We have to go ove—”

“GET HER OUT OF HERE, NOW!” Moyuan’s raging voice came booming over from the other side.

Her body disregarded those words and sprung forward in an attempt to fly across the lake. A binding spell was quickly cast, reeling her back. Despite her efforts, she could not undo it. One by one, the nearby huts on either side of the water erupted in flames. They leapt and spread to the trees and grass, devouring. Bodies on fire, came running out in all directions. Gray smoke began to billow and rise, obstructing her view.

Moyuan’s body, it too had caught aflame.


Third time. It was now the third time. Her heart—did it even know how to process this emotion anymore?


Her cries were inconsolable, tearing through her chest. Bai Qian repeated those two syllables, yelling as her voice turned hoarse, as though they were the only two syllables she knew how to speak.

The arrows continued to rain down. Fanned by the wind, their flames drowned the earth beneath them. The fumes filled her lungs. His figure could barely be seen now, flickering behind the line of fire and smoke that grew like a wall in front of her. There was always a wall. No matter what life they were in, the walls were insurmountable.

While choking through her sobs, she persisted to fight the binding spell that tightened around her, but all in vain. The pain from her injury was now ripping through her body, and in an instant, it devoured her. All the strength she had left was sucked dry. As her legs buckled, her consciousness slipped. His parting words to her, the day she left Kunlun Mountain, was all that hovered in the dimming hollowness of her mind.

Some people are bound by fate.

You and I, are only bound by separation.

Chapter 1

Author’s Note:

Welcome to another round of 3310 fanfiction (some of us still can’t move on with our lives)! Before we go on, I thought I should clarify a few things about this version.

  • There is no A-Li. However, SuSu arc and everything else that happened between her and Ye Hua up to the point where Mo Yuan returns, remains the same.
  • I hated the drama version of Feng Jiu and Dong Hua’s melodramatic clusterf*ck of a romance, so if they are mentioned here, they will be known as their much more respectable Pillow Book counterparts.
  • There will be many new characters added, so some of the old crew may only be mentioned in passing. (I will try to make a new character list)
I think that’s it! Thank you for reading! Oh, I am looking for another beta-reader, so if you’re interested in giving feedback/listening to me rant, lemme know.