Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 3 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 3

written by kakashi
consulting/editing by LigayaCroft & Panda

“No, he isn’t busy,” Changshan said, his slightly excited voice still a distance away, “please follow me, Crown Prince, Crown Princess. Of course he will be delighted to see you. I will have someone serve tea and sesame cookies that I baked this morning. My, how much the little prince has grown!”

“He is eating mountains,” Bai Qian said. “I wasn’t aware something as tiny could eat that much? But Ye Hua tells me it’s quite normal.”

“And me?” A-Li’s voice piped up. “Have I grown too?”

“That goes without saying,” Changshan laughed, “you will soon be taller than your mother!”

“Everybody has been saying this for hundreds of years,” A-Li grumbled, “but I don’t want to grow taller than mother. It will only mean I get more responsibilities.”

“A-Li, mind your manners,” Ye Hua said sharply, but there was hidden laughter in his voice.

Mo Yuan sat up straighter and put away the book he was reading. He plucked at a loose thread on his robe and moved his hands over his hair. It was immaculate, of course. Nothing was reminiscent of the shame the Demons had brought on him and his family when they had cut it. Mo Yuan hadn’t cared much at the time, but in retrospect, he understood the looks of horror and fear on his tribesmen’s faces. He had even appeared in front of Tianjun of Jiuchongtian with his jagged hair blowing in the breeze, scandalizing everyone but himself.

Ye Hua and Bai Qian entered his study, her a few steps ahead of her husband. Her face was displaying eager anticipation tinged with atypical shyness and Mo Yuan’s heart immediately reacted like it always had towards her: With a feeling of tenderness and a strong desire to keep her safe. Before their eyes could meet, she fell on her knees and bowed to him as her Shifu, a gesture that deeply moved him.

“I was so worried,” she whispered after her prostration, letting her eyes move all over his body, from the top of his head down to his legs in the lotus position as if to make sure every part of him was where it belonged.

His disobedient Seventeenth. I am not your Shifu anymore, Crown Princess, he had said. Once a Shifu, always a Shifu, she had answered in defiance. It was a sacred bond between them, one that would last forever. She had been right to put him in his place: he had no right to renounce it. That she had forgiven him so easily put him to shame even more. He bowed his head to her in a show of deference. From the softening expression in her eyes, he knew she understood.

“A-Li greets High God Uncle Mo Yuan,” the little prince said politely and bowed as required.

Ye Hua stepped closer, on his arm a baby. “Da-Ge,” he said, “I want you to meet my second son, your nephew, A-Xi (阿希). Please give him your blessings.”

Carefully, he put his son into Mo Yuan’s arms, his hand lingering on his brother’s shoulder as he fondly smiled at his baby son. He had met with Ye Hua several times after shaking off the curse, but it had always been in the company of others and on official business. The physical contact now meant a lot. His brother, too, had forgiven him his abrasive behavior.

Mo Yuan looked down at the the tiny, half asleep boy in his arms and a great sadness came over him.

“I am sorry…,” Mo Yuan murmured. It wasn’t sufficient to express how he felt, but words did not come easy to him in this situation. Holding this new life reminded him keenly of what he had lost, of what he had hoped to have for himself.

“I mean to have many more children,” Ye Hua declared, misunderstanding his brother’s mood, maybe deliberately, “you will be there for their hundredth day celebration and all other important things.”

“Ye Hua,” Bai Qian hissed.

“What?” Ye Hua grinned at her, “you know I want at least ten children! And since you won’t let me have a harem...”

Feeling rather embarrassed about the intimate nature of their chatter, Mo Yuan got up, balancing A-Xi on one arm and stepped over to the cabinet. He opened one of the drawers and pulled out a small silver bell on braided red string.

“Please accept this gift for your son,” he said to Ye Hua. “This bell belonged to Tianyuan, a very wise and highly skilled warrior monk. He used it to subjugate demons and ghosts during his quest to find holy scripture. It will give your son a means to ward off all evil from his life.”

“Our heartfelt thanks, Da-Ge,” Ye Hua said and gingerly took the small bell from his brother’s hand with a bow.

“What about me?” A-Li sobbed behind them, stomping his foot, “I never got any presents from Uncle.”

His little tantrum earned him a very stern look from Ye Hua and a whispered reprimand from Bai Qian.

But Mo Yuan signalled them it was alright. “You are right to scold me. It is a huge oversight and I must apologize to my first nephew. Come here, A-Li,” Mo Yuan beckoned. The little prince came over, quickly brushing some tears away. “Put your hand into the drawer,” Mo Yuan told his nephew. “The first thing your fingers touch is your present.”

Wide eyed from anticipation, A-Li put his hand in and brought it back out clutching a beautiful ink brush. He looked up at Mo Yuan questioningly… and a bit disappointed. “Ah,” Mo Yuan smiled. “It is a great honor this rare and precious Xuan brush chose you. It also belonged to Tianyuan and it happens to be his greatest weapon. Do you want to hear its story?”

“Yes, please, Uncle High God,” A-Li said all excited. Mo Yuan sat down, still holding the sleeping baby in the crook of his left arm, and gestured for A-Li to sit in his lap.

“There was a time bandits raided Tianyuan’s realm for silks and metal goods,” Mo Yuan began, “as time progressed, they became ever more daring and dangerous, killing people and bringing great suffering. Sadly, the Emperor’s imperial army proved unable to eliminate the menace. Thus, the Emperor…”

“I am sorry for the delay,” Eighteenth exclaimed, rushing into the room with a tray full of tea utensils and cookies. Her speed was so great she had difficulties stopping and would have spilled everything on the floor, if not for Ye Hua’s lightning quick reflexes.

“I am so sorry!” Tiang Gu cried, grabbing for the tray that Ye Hua had caught.

Mo Yuan sighed.

“Oh, Shifu! So sorry!” Tian Gu said again and bowed as required, letting go of the tray again. Luckily, Ye Hua was still holding on to it.

“Horse Princess!” A-Li said delighted and scrambled off Mo Yuan’s lap to greet her.

“Little Prince,” Tiang Gu smiled, before remembering that greetings were given in order of rank and status. “Oh, so sorry. Crown Prince! Crown Princess! Accept my greetings.”

“You’re still here?” Bai Qian asked with a frown. “I thought Shifu is no longer teaching.”

“Oh yes, he is teaching me,” said Tiang Gu. “Also, I am bound to stay at Kunlun until my education is complete. My tribe will not have me back before it.”

Tian Gu frowned at Mo Yuan. He sighed again. One could say he had been neglecting her teaching and she, being about the bluntest person he had ever met, did not let one day go by during which she did not glare at him or mutter unhappily under her breath, for example when she had to do chores as instructed by Changshan.

Ye Hua put down the tray on the low table and Tian Gu began serving tea, as always spilling about half of it. Bai Qian’s frown deepened. “Are you taking good care of Shifu?” she asked the young woman sharply.

“Good ca...I would like to, Crown Princess, but he won’t let me!” Tian Gu exclaimed. “I do tell him not to drink, for example, because he needs to purge his entire body of the Chìbǎng poison first, but he does not listen. No, he even tells me not to bother him!”

Bai Qian turned flashing eyes on Mo Yuan. “Shifu, that is irresponsible! I will have to talk to Zhe Yan.” She turned back to Tian Gu. “Do not be discouraged. You must know that his grumpiness is actually a sign of his esteem for you.”

“Oh, is that true?” Tian Gu asked and looked at Mo Yuan again. “His face is always so…”

“Come,” said Bai Qian with a laugh and side glance at Mo Yuan’s expression and took Tian Gu by the arm, “let’s visit Second Senior. I want to hear all about his experience as a teacher! You too, A-Li. Come.”

“But mother,” A-Li said with a pout and dug his heels in when she took his arm, “Uncle Lord promised to tell me a story!”

“He can finish it later. Your father the Crown Prince has something to discuss with him. Have you seen Second Senior’s beautiful swan? I’m sure he’ll let you feed her.”

After they three had left the room chattering, Mo Yuan lifted his eyebrows. “I have lost all authority, have I.”

“Oh, don’t mind them,” Ye Hua shrugged, “you know Qian Qian, she has always been like this. But if you want that Horse Princess gone… just chase her away. We can make it official Celestial business after you took such a harsh punishment for them using their eerie magic on you.”

“I’m honor bound to teach her,” Mo Yuan sighed. “It was the agreement. And you know they did not “use” their magic on me without my consent. No, she stays. It's not like there isn't anything to teach her…”

Bai Qian had forgotten her baby, Mo Yuan realized when it began stirring faintly in his arms. He held onto it a little more firmly and very gently stroked the baby’s soft cheek as he rocked it back and forth. It fell back asleep again moving his tiny mouth in a sucking motion.

“You came to tell me something?” he then asked his brother who had taken one of the sesame cookies from the tray and was chewing it lost in thought.

“Yes…,” Ye Hua swallowed the sweet and took a few sips of tea. “Now that your lightning torment is done and you have stopped teaching, I feel…” Ye Hua turned his dark eyes on him. As always, it was almost like looking into a mirror. “We need your help, High God Mo Yuan.”

“Who sends you?” Mo Yuan cautiously asked.

“I did discuss it with the Heavenly Lord to secure his approval,” Ye Hua answered quietly, “but it was my idea.”

“Then speak,” Mo Yuan said.

“It’s the Demons…”

Mo Yuan had heard that trouble was brewing so he wasn’t surprised. The Purple Queen Yi Mei Niang had been crowned Overlord at his insistence. All the other clans, minus the Yellow Clan which no longer existed, had sworn fealty. In return, the Demon Realm had retained its independence and wasn’t placed under Celestial rules. On the day of her coronation ceremony, Yi Mei Niang had told him: “I hope you suffer for a long time for what you have done. I really don’t like you, High God Mo Yuan. But I will try to make Queen Shao Wan’s sacrifice count.”

The problem with weak rulers was that there was always someone trying to exploit their weakness.

“How is that any of my concern?” Mo Yuan asked his brother, though he knew where this was going.

“The rebels are gaining more and more followers,” Ye Hua continued. “They even have started to build a city near Huang Juéwàng.”

“Their leader is unfit to rule,” Mo Yuan observed. His name was Shǒu and he was a very rich and crafty individual, overseeing the legendary fighting pits. Mo Yuan had never met him in person, but the Demon Realm needed stability and business, not hotheaded fighter types.

“Yes. But the Demon Overlord…,” Ye Hua cleared his throat, “she told him he could take over. ‘I am entirely sick of this shit’, is what she said verbatim, according to Si Ming.”

“What a troublesome woman,” Mo Yuan sighed.

“That’s not all, Da-Ge. There are... there are many accounts of forbidden magic coming in at an alarming rate. We suspect a popular Cult. And if the rebels and this Cult become allies, we might have a bigger problem on our hands.”

“Look for somebody else,” Mo Yuan said with a shake of his head, “I don’t want to go to war anymore. Never again. I’m retired.”

“Ah, but you see, Da-Ge. Nobody wants a war - quite the opposite. We have lost more than half of our men in that carnage. We are still rebuilding the Heavens. We are not ready for war. No, we need you to be... an Ambassador.”

Mo Yuan choked on his tea and coughed.

“Did you just say Ambassador?”

“It is what I said, Da-Ge. I am… the Nine Heavens are asking you to be the Celestial Ambassador in the Demon Realm. We need to find a peaceful way how to stabilize this situation. It would just be talking. Lots of talking.”

Mo Yuan carefully set down his tea cup. Bitter... everything was still so bitter. His sense of taste had not returned to normal and he slept badly, every night, because of nightmares. He could no longer do soul search and the pain inside felt like poison eating away at him. He was done with this life, this world. He was waiting for his time to be up.

“It would mean a lot to me, Da-Ge,” Ye Hua continued. “I have so much on my plate and I should start preparing for ascension… Bai Qian is unhappy because I already don't spend enough time with her and the baby...”

Was his brother manipulating him? Mo Yuan squinted at him and his innocent air. Of course he was, Ye Hua was a child of the Heavens, he was very apt at the subtle arm twisting that characterized those leaders that managed to be well-respected and yet get things, even unpleasant ones, done.

“The Demons might riot if I show my face there,” he slowly said.

“Ah, maybe. But I don’t think so,” Ye Hua answered with hope in his eyes, “you are a legend in the Demon Realm. Feared, but not disrespected.”

“Oh yes, I’m the God every Demon child wishes to kill,” Mo Yuan added. Ambassador in the Demon Realm? It had a nice ring to it. For a very long time, had wanted to write a book about Demon customs. This could be his chance to do it before he scattered. But talking, lots of talking wasn't exactly his strong suit.

Leaving Mount Kunlun… going on a last journey on the other hand...

“I will think about it,” he told his brother. He saw how the hope in Ye Hua’s eyes changed to resignation, but he was not yet ready to commit to something he was so bluntly forced into. Even if it had been Ye Hua’s idea… a wise and prudent idea. He was proud of his little brother.

They sat together a while longer, discussing weapons and defenses, until A-Li came running back.

“Uncle Mo Yuan!” he called, “I have come to hear the story of the brush! Oh, father...may I hear the story?”

“If High God Mo Yuan does not mind…”

“A story always needs to be told to the end, it's bad luck to leave them unfinished,” Mo Yuan chuckled. “Where were we…”

“The imperial army did not manage to beat the bandits,” A-Li helped, climbing on Mo Yuan’s lap again.

“Ah yes. Well, the Emperor called upon Tianyuan to help him. He himself had to travel to Tianyuan’s monastery in the mountains, a long and strenuous journey mostly on foot.... There’s another story there that I will tell you another time because that Emperor was not used to walking at all. Once he got to the monastery, the Emperor begged the monk to save the people. Tianyuan agreed but only if the Emperor passed a test on philosophy and martial arts. He…”

“What kind of things did Tianyuan ask about philosophy?” A-Li wanted to know.

“Oh, for example: If it is in the nature of men to be wicked, what will the wise ruler prioritize: strict laws with harsh punishments, code of proper conduct for every man to learn or will he encourage that each person must find an individual moral path to follow?”

“Oh, how difficult! What would you have answered, Uncle?”

“Do you not study philosophy diligently, A-Li?” Mo Yuan smiled at the young prince.

“Yes I do… sometimes,” A-Li admitted.

How very much like Bai Qian he was. “Had I been the Emperor in that story, I would have said ‘Virtue is more to man than either water or fire. I have seen men die from treading on water and fire, but I have never seen a man die from treading the course of virtue’."

“But... you would not have given an answer to the question.”

“Yes, it’s an answer. I means that it’s virtue the ruler needs to prioritize and everything else will fall into place.”

A-Li nodded slowly. “You are a very wise man, Uncle. Just like you would have, the Emperor passed the test? And then?”

“Yes, the Emperor passed. Then, Tianyuan came down from his mountain and went into the world. He travelled throughout the land and defeated many ruffians until he came upon the main camp of the bandits. Being the man he was, he was not afraid of the hundreds upon hundreds of bandits that rushed towards him when they sighted him but stood his ground. The curious thing that made the leader of the bandits pause and stop his men from mindlessly charging forward was that in his hand, he only held a brush.”

“My brush?” A-Li wanted to know. “It’s much better than the bell, isn’t it.”

“Oh yes. It’s name is Xuanxuan and it was all that Tianyuan needed to defeat the bandits. Tianyuan said: “I am the only true warrior here. Is there any martial art in which you are good enough to try and beat me?” One group tried using their special hand combat techniques. Tianyuan jumped atop a boulder. The first wave of assailants tried to climb the boulder, however, he pushed all of them down with his ink brush. Knowing special pressure points, he wounded them so severely, they couldn’t never walk again. Then, he came down from his boulder because he felt a bit bored. A second wave of assailants drew their swords and charged at him. They slashed their weapons at Tianyuan who simply turned so quickly on the spot with his outstretched brush that they flew through the air and never came back. At that point, the leader of the bandits surrendered and begged forgiveness. Then, all the bandits prostrated themselves in front of Tianyuan, and offered their submission.”

“Did he become a bandit too?” A-Li asked.

“No. They followed him and all became monks.”

“I want to be a monk who fights with a brush when I grow up!” A-Li said, “can I, father?”

“Well… you will be Heavenly Lord after me,” Ye Hua explained.

“A-Xi can do it, I don’t want to,” A-Li said. “There are too many problems and nobody likes you when you're Heavenly Lord. I shall be just like Uncle High God Mo Yuan, a monk on a mountain.”

He looked happy as he hopped off Mo Yuan’s lap for the second time today, carrying the brush in front of him like a sword and went over to Ye Hua. “Father Lord, the Horse Princess has offered to show me her horse and how she rides it standing up. Will you please accompany me? It is not proper for a young man to be alone with a young woman.”

Mo Yuan laughed and told the nonplussed Ye Hua that he didn’t mind staying here with the baby a little longer. Truth was, as much as he enjoyed to have this bit of family he had left around him, there was nothing more desirable than the quiet that settled around him on Mount Kunlun when he was left alone.

It was then he sometimes heard Shao Wan’s voice. He never understood what it was saying, but she spoke to him in his imagination and it comforted him. Just like his violent dreams about her comforted him, in a strange, almost twisted kind of way. In his head, in his dreams… she was still here.

“I never knew you had such a good hand for children,” Seventeenth said from the door, in her hands blooming twigs from a peach tree, “A-Xi never sleeps that long, usually.” She must have been watching him for a while and Mo Yuan felt heat rise to his cheeks. Daydreaming… even here, he should never drop his guard like this.

“Your lives are blessed,” he said and waited until she had put the peach blossoms into a vase… such a familiar gesture. Why did it make him so sad? He deposited the sleeping child into her outstretched arms after she had stepped closer. She took the babe and gazed down at her son… looking somewhat lost.

“Shifu, please visit us in the Heavens,” she said and turned her beautiful eyes at him. “We miss you.”

He had never thought a free spirit like her would bear to live in that place for as long as she had, but maybe he did not know his Seventeenth as well as he had always thought he did.

“It looks like I’m going on a journey,” he said.

“Oh, a mission?” she asked. “Where to? That is exciting. It will do you good! We are worried about you.”

Yes, everyone worried all the time. But he did not want to be the person everyone worried about. He had to leave. “The Demon Realm,” he said, “for a while.”

“Oh,” she just said and looked a bit sad.

“I will make sure to visit you and Ye Hua in the Heavens as soon as I have time,” he hurried to add. “Once I return.”

“Thank you,” she said. “Oh, Shifu, something I have been meaning to ask you about for a long time... the flask. Did you find the flask, the one that shimmers? It was I who brought it to Kunlun during the War. I met the Demon Ancestor outside the Celestial Camp when you were prisoner and she... I am so sorry, Shifu. I shouldn’t have…”

She knew him too well, he could barely hide his feelings in front of Seventeenth. Just the mention of Shao Wan’s name brought down all his carefully set up defenses: He wanted to sob his eyes out and die.

“It’s no matter, Seventeenth,” Mo Yuan lied, “yes, I found the flask.”

“She had expressed her hopes that it would help you shake the curse quicker, but that didn’t happen, I guess... She seemed very attached to it. There was something very strange about her during that last meeting…”

He could barely think about much less look at the flask without an instant, strong reaction from his inner Dragon. “I think I know what’s in the flask”, Golden Dragon said in his head, “human, listen to me! I think I know what’s in the flask…”

Mo Yuan shut him down with cold efficiency. He needed to or he would be a sobbing mess howling for his Fenghuang all day long.

Demon Ambassador… yes. It would be a good thing. It seemed fitting that he would leave his mountain. It was possible he would never come back. If he couldn't find peace here, he might find peace elsewhere.


When Shao Wan died, she cried tears of frustration for the first time. So close. So damn close! Sadly, the one-eyed shaman had died a while ago, but since the old woman had become rather rich from Shao Wan’s manuscripts, she had been very generous and had even revealed the secret of her special herbs and chants towards the end of her lifespan.

Shao Wan had been certain she had established a connection to Mo Yuan. She could feel him - him and his sorrow and pain, every single time. She begged, she shouted, she screamed at him… but there never was an answer. He did not come. All this effort and still, he did not hear her.

Shortly before she took her last breath in her current miserable life, Shao Wan knew with the clarity that often came before death that she would have to change her approach.

If it was impossible to reach the Gods, she would have to go to the Gods. She needed to ascend to immortal status through cultivation. Even if it took her a thousand lives or more.

Chapter 4