Fanfiction: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan - Chapter 93 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 93

written by kakashi
edited by Panda

“I would not want to experience mortal suffering, you are right. But at least, it ends. Immortal grief is much worse. It doesn’t.”

She had been right. Immortal grief was like a taste of hell while one was damned to live, like an ocean of the blackest sorrow threatening to drown one’s every sense and purpose.

Fate disapproved of immortals and that was why she sent tribulations their way, threatening to destroy their cultivation, even trying to kill them for defying death. And yet, every immortal knew that those trials were limited in time. Lightning strikes were extremely painful, yet never lasted for long. It made them bearable. Mortal trials tested one’s weaknesses in brutal ways, but mortal death ended the suffering. Since no lasting damage was done, they were soon forgotten.

To lose someone highly cherished was the worst of all trials - for it only had a beginning but never came to an end. The loved ones were forever gone. Long immortal lives kept filling up with memories of the dead, a growing parade of loss and guilt with no reprieve. With every new memorial tablet that was added to a shrine, the old losses became vivid again, and the people he had failed to protect stared at the God who lived with accusing eyes through the mist of time, silent tears glistening on their pale, drawn faces.

His disciples were his children. As their father, he had vowed to protect them with his life. It was not right to live on after he had broken his promise. And yet, he was. Forever punished.

Losing Ninth during the Ghost War had been the beginning of the calamity that war had become for him. Never would he forget the blotches of bright red sullying Ling Yu's white armor as he lay lifeless in his command tent, never the expression of hurt surprise on the still face. He had known it was surprise that death would come so early for someone as young as him; surprise his Shifu had cruelly sent him to his untimely demise as part of a doomed vanguard.

Today, Si Yin’s sobbed words rang in his ears again: “Shifu! Not even you can save Ninth?” No, he could do absolutely nothing; one of the most powerful Gods alive was completely powerless when cruel Fate struck someone dead. But much, much worse, it had all been his fault. Back then, his fault for not putting an unbreakable spell on his valuable battle plans. His fault for breaking his rules and letting a woman stay with them, only because he had wanted Si Yin to be happy. His fault for being too arrogant, believing a victory over the Ghosts would be easy.

It was always his fault.

This time, where had he been when 4th’s future was crushed by the Yellow Demon King? Occupied with his selfish, reckless need to find out how far he could test his luck with Fate. Where had he been when the little Ghost Princess, such an innocent soul, had been kidnapped? Sitting in his Command Tent in his battle armor, nervously waiting for Shao Wan to come back to him. And, the by far biggest failing, where had he been when Zi Lan had given his life to defend an innocent? Lost. Lost in a sea of feelings.

He had forgotten his duties. He had thrown his natural caution to the wind, he had thought he would get away with spending some time in the mortal realm with the woman he could no longer be without. He had thought that it was possible to be deliriously happy, he had believed that they could make it work, end this war early, be at peace for the rest of their lives. He had even dared to want a family with her, children of their own, four or five little versions of Shao Wan running around, just as brave and beautiful and alive as her. He had been gathering courage to ask her to live with him. He wanted to marry her for real, to show the Realms what she meant to him. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

Of course that wasn’t possible. Of course he was not meant to find happiness in this lifetime. He had known, yet had forgotten. And now, his failing had cost another one of his children his life. There would be no happiness from now on, never again.


He was still feeling very weak, yet he was definitely strong enough to scold the child Fong Hung had grown into, even if being naked underneath the blankets robbed him of authority rather considerably.

“How did you manage to break my wards?” he asked sharply.

“Me strong!” Fong Hung boasted, “wards no problem for me. I touch, they disappear.”

Mo Yuan scowled. When had the mount acquired such powers? It was a mystery, but not one he could solve here, in the mortal realm. The effects of the magic biteback were still making his body shake even from the smallest exertion and he wanted to never again experience something like it. It had been a close call: The Nothingness had beckoned. If not for Shao Wan’s hands on his brow, her salacious curses mixed with sweet words and desperate pleas in his ears, he might have gone there, towards the eternal promise of peace.

“You spent all time in bed?” Fong Hung asked, grinning happily, “High God Mo Yuan looks worn out.”

“You little rascal!” Shao Wan laughed and shook her head.

“He is always very nice when in bed,” Fong Hung nodded assiduously. “Is best to take him there often, Ance-tor. No fighting.”

Ye Heavens. Mo Yuan closed his eyes in mortification as he let himself sink back onto the cushions. The darn toad had
watched them at Kunlun. So many times.

“But a bit of fighting is good in a relationship,” Shao Wan declared and looked at Mo Yuan with a smile. Of course, she did not deem it necessary to blush even a little and added: “Ours is built on a lot of it.”

But Fong Hung had not come to encourage them to stay in bed together. He had come in a hurry because he had followed Cheng Yin around, using that newly acquired, eerie skill of his to be absolutely invisible. (“How did you even find us?” Mo Yuan asked, but Fong Hung just said: “I followed you.”) He had seen the Demon King go far, far into the Borderlands, to meet with, as he put it, “scary magickers.” Fong Hung was deeply troubled about what he had seen in that cave there, even if he did not fully understand the significance of it and had not been able to glean many details, since one of them had thrown a magic blanket over him at one point, blocking his view.

Shao Wan asked her mount many questions and grew more and more thoughtful with every answer.

“Do you know who they are?” Mo Yuan asked.

“A myth,” she answered with a frown, “boogeymen that Demon parents use to scare their children. Apparently, they come and steal your soul if you misbehave.”

“Apparently not a myth,” Mo Yuan concluded. “They know how to transfer essence without fungal grass. That is very interesting.”

“Did you not listen, Celestial? They know how to
take someone’s essence, too!”

“I don’t believe that is possible. Would they not be punished for it? The Universe demands balance.”

Shao Wan put her head into her palms. “I do wish to experience the day you stop thinking everything functions only the way you believe it functions!” She frowned at him from between her fingers. “I know you Celestials sometimes cheat with your trials. I once heard a story of someone taking a lightning trial for someone else. Did the Heavens notice? Not at all, though I heard it hurts abominably.”

Mo Yuan clamped his mouth shut. It was a good point: There
were ways to cheat. He was living proof of it. If someone was ready to spend a lot of time and energy on finding ways, they would find them.

They both fell quiet. Fong Hung grew bored and started examining every item in the room, muttering to himself under his breath. When he was done with that, he left towards the kitchen, exclaiming he was very hungry.

“I have a rather horrible suspicion,” Shao Wan murmured as soon as the door was shut. “Celestial, I will have to find out the details of his plan. We need to go back immediately.”

Of course, the moment Fong Hung had turned up, Mo Yuan had known it was over. But a man could get greedy after experiencing happiness. He did not want to leave. It was still deepest night in the immortal realms. Nobody would miss them before morning. They had so much time left! Almost thirty mortal days. He wanted to spend them with her, here, in this house he had built.

“You will not like what I am going to say now, Celestial and I am sorry for it.” Shao Wan took a deep, shuddering breath. “But I need to get close to him. As...close as it takes.”


People had come and gone outside the tent. Die Feng was one of them. He had been the one to convey the sad news about Zi Lan’s sacrifice and demise shortly after Mo Yuan’s return from the mortal realm, his face as white as a sheet, his eyes red from the lack of sleep and unspilled tears. The words had almost choked him, while visible guilt was eating away at him from the inside. Thunderstruck, Mo Yuan had sent him away with a mere, dismissive gesture and sealed off the tent right behind him. Shut out like this, Die Feng had called out repeatedly to his Shifu, more and more desperate and pleading, but Mo Yuan was not ready to put on a calm face and be strong for the sake of appearances. He had no words to ease Die Feng’s troubled heart, no ability to be a Master offering guidance anymore.

Ye Hua had come, but Mo Yuan did not want to face him either. He felt too deeply ashamed to look into his brother’s kind eyes, to hear him say that he had done everything he could have. It was not true that he had: any comfort offered by his younger sibling just made his guilt grow bigger and more unbearable. Si Yin had come too, calling upon their old bond, begging him to open up and let her in. But he had no wish to trouble her with his dark sorrow, when she herself was so heartbroken over the death of her best friend. He had no wish to see her tears while holding back his own, because for her, he always had to be strong, a shoulder to lean on, a lap to bury a crying face in.

It was dark outside by the time Mo Yuan got up from the lotus position and changed into a snow white robe. The familiar sounds of an army camp settling down for the night around him could have been a sort of consolation, because what was life if not routine? But to him, it was only a confirmation that they were at war and that the worst was yet to come.

And he missed her.

Her scent still lingered in this tent, days after she had come to him. Underneath the grief and the guilt was the raw need to see her, to hold her in his arms, to tell her how much he loved her, to bury his face at her neck and let the tears flow in the hope the moisture would wash away part of the pain. With her, he knew he could be who he truly was, just a man, just as weak as everyone, and she would understand. The consolation even the mere thought of her offered was the only one he was willing to accept.

And that was a problem.

His heart ached with the deepest sorrow over a death he was to blame for - but even more with the strongest longing he had ever known to exist. It was a travesty. His 16th Disciple deserved more than this - the very least he should give him was undiluted sorrow. And yet, Shao Wan’s face was there when he closed his eyes, not Zi Lan’s.

Instead of honoring the dead, he desired the living.

Had she heard about Cheng Yin’s success? Was she there, sharing a tent with him, hearing him boast about how he had taken a Disciple’s life, crippled another? Could he...could he sit still against his explicit wish to barge into the Demon Camp and take her away? For how long?

He knew at this point that he would choose Shao Wan over everything, without even a moment of hesitation. Others, he was certain, knew that too. It meant he had become a stone on the weiqi board rather than the player. He could be used at will. And that could very well mean the end of everything.

In his mind, he always naturally saw the possible consequences of every action taken by himself and others. He saw the future in multitudes, the result of options and decisions, ever-shifting, yet always clearly determined. Shao Wan’s return had upset all his well-planned futures. The realization that he loved her had set it right again. In the end, there had only been one future in his mind, a desired future worth living for.

But that was wrong. Somewhere along the way he had stopped considering every possibility, as he should have. The part of him that was strategic and cold had been overpowered by a part of him he had not even known he had, the part that was ready to throw status, duty and power o the winds and run away with the love of his life. He liked that new part of him, the longer he got to know it, the better...but he knew he could not allow it to exist. It had no place in a war like this one, with an opponent like Cheng Yin.

“Don’t do it,” Golden Dragon whispered. But there was no anger there, no strength - only sadness. He knew there had only one choice.

For a man who had always been able to rely on his great strategic abilities, finding himself with so few options was frightening. He had been pushed into a corner by a ruthless, clever opponent he had underestimated.

He could coun't himself lucky that at least, there still was a way to win - he had one last, powerful move left.


“No.” He did not need to think about it, not for even a blink of an eye. No. He would not let Shao Wan go to Cheng Yin. Never.

“You do not tell me what to do, Celestial,” she said, but her eyes were still shining with a tenderness that made his heart soften like the one of a weak-willed fool.

“I will not let you.”

“In your current state, you stand no chance against me in a fight. I will go. I must.”

“Please, Shao Wan,” he whispered, putting his heart into his words. They had an effect, he saw it in her face. There was sudden doubt there, a vulnerability that made his stomach clench. He had put it there. His beautiful wife, she was vulnerable because of his selfishness. Would he go that far? He took her hand, feeling helpless.

“He is after you,” she said, pulling her hand away, “I am almost certain. He wants you dead. If the stories about that Sect are true, he now knows how to take your cultivation before it dissipates into the Nothingness.”

“I won’t die. I am much stronger than him. Shao Wan…”

“If he takes your powers and adds them to his, he will be able to beat me. Do you hear me? That cannot happen. He could get in possession of my sky-powers. You cannot
in any case give your life.”

“I will not die and you will not go to him. We will find another way.”

Shao Wan moved away from him with a deep sigh and stood up. “I grieves me that we need to part like this.”

Mo Yuan scrambled out of bed himself, but his legs almost gave way underneath him and he sat down on the edge of the bed quickly to hide his weakness.

“I do not want to part at all.”

“Our cuddle time is over, Celestial. This is not about what you want or what I want. I did not start this war for myself. This is for my
people, for the injustice they have suffered because of mistakes I made. I want them to be what they once were, I want the realms to know us for what we are. I must do this.”

He recognized the truth in her words, even though he hated it. As a Queen of her kind, she had duties that went beyond her personal needs, just like he had them as well. Yes, they were much more alike than he had ever wanted to realize and her reasons were the ones he would have given in the same situation. Stubbornly, he scowled at her nonetheless. “I cannot let you go to this Monster. It will drive me insane. Do you still not know what you mean to me?”

Shao Wan snorted. “Do you want Si Ming have to write the story of the jealous God of War who lost because he put his own needs before the needs of the realms?”

She was so clever, his little demon, and she knew him so well. His heart filled with great tenderness - and then with the bitter realization that he had lost this battle before he had even realized he was in one. Of course he had to honor her wishes; he had promised her he would and he would always. Her expression softened again and she stepped in front of him, taking his face into her hands.

“Have faith in me, Celestial.”

“That isn’t the problem,” he pressed out. The thought of him touching her…the thought of harm coming to the Gods, he could not live without her.

“Then do what that person in your tent said. I will be waiting for you in the Obsidian Palace when you snap out of it. For however long it takes.”

His puzzlement must have shown, because she bent down and put a kiss on the tip of his nose. “You will feel nothing, whatever I will have to do to bring Cheng Yin down. Doesn’t that sound convenient?”

“This is not the time to make jokes like this!” Mo Yuan said, shocked to realize what she meant and instantly livid.

Her shining eyes slowly hardened. He knew, she had made up her mind and whatever he said and whatever he did, she would do what she considered necessary, selflessly and yet, so selfish. “You are mistaken, Celestial, I am not joking at all. I am going to Cheng Yin now and it would put my heart at ease to know I am not breaking yours. You need your wits about you. You need to focus. Without any distractions. Without emotions.”

Anger overtook his senses then. He had shouted at her, calling her heartless and cruel. Fong Hung had come running with thumping feet, his mouth full of rice, very unhappy to see them fight.

“I cannot believe we are at this point again,” she whispered when he stopped his tirade, her eyes full of determination and much too much moisture.

“If you go, I will consider you my enemy!” he heard himself shout. Foolish man, foolish words. He regretted them as soon as they hung in the air between them. “Don’t cry, Shao Wan,” is what he truly wanted to say, “I will always be here, waiting for you.” But these words did not come out.

Shao Wan nodded slowly. “Then let’s be enemies again. It’s what I always wanted because it will ensure you do not do anything stupid like giving your life for me out of misplaced sentimentality.”

She looked at him silently for a while, then made a small step in his direction, like she couldn’t help it...he hoped for a kiss, one last kiss before they had to part. He lifted his hand to take hers, but she had already turned around and walked to the door. “Farewell, Mo Yuan,” she said without looking back. “Let the weiqi board be empty again.”

She left him weak and alone and utterly miserable in the house he had built as a refuge for them - a place he had thought they could be happy in together, without a care in the world. Indeed, that they had so briefly been happy here like he had imagined they could be made everything much, much worse.

Chapter 94a