Fanfiction: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan - Chapter 97 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 97

written by Panda
edited by kakashi

Growing up as a member of the Nine Tailed Fox Clan and the future Queen on Qing Qiu I felt no need to answer to anyone but myself (and sometimes my parents) nor did I think I needed to obey many rules. I lived my life carefree and secure in the warmth of my family and confident in my power and position in the clan. The old Phoenix however was unhappy with my “unruliness” as he termed it and he convinced my parents I should get proper tutoring and training under the God of War, who was running the most prestigious school in all the realms.

The entire plan thrilled me - from being in disguise to being a student of someone as famous as the God of War. I imagined him to be a fearsome, intimidating God because that was how me and my brothers had always pictured someone with such an awe-inspiring reputation. I must admit I felt a bit cheated when I first set my eyes on him and even remarked as much to High God Zheyan but he waved my shallow observations away with a chuckle - he knew I would soon understand who the God of War truly was.

And indeed, before long, I came to understand my Shifu and his ways. He taught me by example that true power and strength was so much more than brute force. I still don’t quite know how he did it, because I was not a particularly willing student, but through millennia of Godly patience and wisdom, he succeeded in taming my unruly side, in the process making me a better person- someone fit to rule.

During the years, I also came to realize why Shifu had such a ferocious reputation. He cared nothing for the Heavens’ opinion and despite the wishes of the Heavenly Lord to the contrary, he rescued me from the prison of the White Goddess like it was nothing. And then, he even risked a war when he rescued me and beloved Ninth from the Ghost Clan not long after. I will never forget how he vanquished all the soldiers and went head to head with Qing Cang without breaking a sweat.

But now, I look back on all that happened with fresh eyes. When had Shifu started to have feelings for me? He never gave any indication that he had seen through my disguise but treated me just like his other students...I had thought. I am still convinced he would have rescued any of his students like he had rescued me. But what about the lightning strikes? Those accursed lightning strikes - the thing I have felt most guilty about all my life. Because my willfulness and stubbornness had made me not adequately prepare for my Ascension trial, I had to watch lightning strikes tear through Shifu’s body while I could only sob and cry trapped behind a barrier.

Had he cared for me as a woman then? Probably. Why else would he have taken on such pain onto himself?

But how had I missed it?

Was it because my eyes were clouded by my nothing of a relationship with Li Jing? Or am I just naturally so obtuse? How terribly young and foolish I was back then. I had thought the world would end after one man’s silly betrayal. Still weakened by my lightning strikes, Mo Yuan had come out of seclusion early to console me. How had I missed the signs? He had always treated me with
more consideration and care than my seniors.

It showed in how Shifu had never minded and had even helped curb some of the teasing I had incurred from my seniors for acting like a puppy as I followed him around unhindered and undeterred by convention. It had made me happy when he had played his zither just for me or when he had singled me out for special attention like bringing back wine from Zheyan. I had never read anything more into it. What a fool I had been.

No wonder people had felt there was something between us.

It had only made me mad when I had heard speculations about our relationship. No one could understand the mixture of respect and guilt I had over what happened when he sacrificed his soul. He was weakened because he had taken my punishment. Mine! And my unruly behavior before had even led directly to the war and to him having to sacrifice himself to the Bell. Of course I had to do everything to get him back. There was no way I was going to let his body be buried especially after he told us he was coming back.

But he specifically meant to tell ME he was coming back? Oh Shifu.

If I had known would things have been different?

The hooting of an owl made Bai Qian realize with a start it was past time she returned to the camp. It had been days since Shifu had set off to get himself taken prisoner by the Demons and ever since, camp security had been tightened considerably. He had ordered that no-one was to leave camp and come after him - she had a feeling this order was directed especially at her, but she had been unable to keep still and pretend like everything was fine. Nothing was fine.

It was such an awful idea of Shifu to get himself taken prisoner and she could not understand how Ye Hua had been arm twisted into agreeing with it.

And of course, there was that other matter. How was she supposed to feel? The man who had said very hurtful words to her was not the Shifu she knew. And yet, it did not change the fact that what he had said was the truth he felt - a brutal, unfiltered truth. You made me return from the Nothingness and it has been nothing but a calamity ever since.

That he had pained her so much. And yet, she knew that even though she had made many mistakes, he would never blame her under normal circumstances. It was her consolation...but it still hurt as if somebody had cut her open and ripped her heart out. She felt so sorry for him. So sorry for his current state and how much he would blame himself once he returned to normal.

Ye Hua, as perceptive as ever, had quickly noticed something was wrong with her and although she had tried to convince him in the days that followed that she was just a little preoccupied due to worry over Shifu and sorrow over her Senior, she was sure she had not convinced him. He was just as antsy as her over the long silence from the Demon side and his fussing had gotten to such a level that she had felt the need to hide away from his concern. So, she had taken to wandering away from camp, unnoticed and undetected by everyone.

She'd been wandering rather aimlessly for well over half a day until she could finally get some measure of clarity in the situation. Although her mind was still not fully at rest, looking up and seeing stars in the sky brought home that she had been gone for way too long. Ye Hua would be worried senseless. She needed to return. With a sense of urgency she got up and dusted her clothes to head back to camp.

But which way was it? She went into the direction she considered most likely when suddenly, she heard rustling to her side and a gang of demon soldiers burst out from hiding, snarling, their weapons drawn for a battle.

Maybe she had gone in the wrong direction.

Almost a shame they are not more, Bai Qian thought, her blood singing as she raised her right hand and motioned to them to attack her, I needed the exercise.

In a too-short period soon after, all the demons lay on the ground, wounded or unconscious. With a indignant sniff, she turned around to continue her journey when out of nowhere her wrists got shackled by chains. There are more after all! she thought, but the situation had definitely turned, she couldn’t break free.

Narrowing her eyes, she realized she had to calm herself down and assess the situation. The demon brigade gave yells of glee and started dragging her along with the shackles on her wrists. She concentrated her strength and with a mighty effort slammed the soldiers with all the energy she could muster. More than ten demon soldiers were flung into the nearby bushes, but it was not enough: More men came out of nowhere and to the assistance of the ones already around her.

Bai Qian furiously continued fighting but it seemed futile - they threw themselves at her in masses until she had almost no space for maneuvering left...until suddenly a tall, masked figure burst upon them, scattered the soldiers and with a sharp precise sweep of their sword broke her shackles.

“Can you still fight?” the figure in black asked impatiently. Affronted to be thought a weakling, Bai Qian gave a quick nod. In unison they turned to the soldiers and after she summoned her Jade Fan, vanquished them in a very short space of time. Turning to her, the masked figure said in a low tone: “This place is dangerous, let’s go” and without another word stalked off.

Panting slightly, Bai Qian had to run to catch up with her savior. “I want to go back to my camp!” she demanded but the figure didn’t stop. After a while, the landscape began to look vaguely familiar. Ah, this was near the camp!

“Stop. I can’t let you get any closer without knowing who you are!” she called out.

“I am someone who is very astonished at how carelessly little foxes wander into enemy territory,” the figure retorted and shoved off the scarf from her face. Bai Qian started in surprise - it was the Demon Ancestor, her hair in a tight bun, her face very pale.

Instantly, Bai Qian launched herself at her. “Where is my Shifu!” she demanded furiously, her elbow angled towards the Ancestor’s throat as she took a step closer and tried to grab the neckline of her top. Shao Wan dodged the move, nearly tripping over in the process and Bai Qian launched another attack at her.

The Ancestor spent a while dodging and parrying Bai Qian’s moves, so expertly it only inflamed her more and she put more force behind a particularly nasty blow to the right limb that would have incapacitated a lesser immortal had it landed on its intended target. Shao Wan however blocked the jab in a very swift move and hastily jumped away when she got the chance, scowling ferociously and breathing heavily.

“Stop!” she said raising her hands defensively, “do I look like I came to your aid out of enmity? I have not time nor patience for any such obtuseness.”

Bai Qian narrowed her eyes at her. “Then...why are you here?”

“I tried to get into your camp, but the Celestial put up much better defenses this time. When trying to find another way, I happened across you and your little difficulty,” the Demoness said in response.

“What do you want in our camp!”

“Deliver information for how to save him. Though why I bother I wonder. Incapable of listening, merciless, cruel...stupid. Just take him off my hands already.”

Shao Wan’s tone was not what she expected, so Bai Qian paused and took the first good look at the woman standing in front of her. She looked vastly different to the last time she had seen her, like a candle about to go out. She looks very wan and tired, Bai Qian thought in growing surprise. What happened to her powers? She would never have thought it possible, but she felt - concern.

“Demon Goddess, what happened to you?” she asked haltingly, “did...did Shifu do this?”

Shao Wan blinked rapidly and shook her head briefly, with a snort. “No, though in a manner, yes. Good heavens, that Shifu of yours is the bane of my existence. How by the First Ones did you people let him to go ahead with such a terrible plan? Now you forced me to sneak around in the dark in the hope of meeting a Celestial to come rescue him.” She closed her eyes and when she opened them again the expression in them twisted something in Bai Qian’s heart.

“I will gladly help you have just helped me,” she added, remembering her manners. “I want to convey my gratitude for helping me out with the Demon soldiers, although I would have eventually gotten myself out of it alone.”

Shao Wan snorted. Then, she unfurled a scroll from her pouch. “I shall trust you with the Celestial’s life since I know of the bond between you two. Here. This is where you find him. I have drawn you a map of the secret passages and marked all the traps and given instructions how to get passed them.”

She was overcome by a coughing fit then and Bai Qian had to check the impulse to rush to her side. “Crown Princess,” Shao Wan said with urgency as soon as she could speak again, “you must rescue him with no delay. He is even more foolish and reckless in this state than he ever was and I fear for his life. Go get him and heal him - he knows what to do next.”

Bai Qian no longer cared that this woman had insulted her so many times before. Responding to the distress and the fevered expression she saw on the Goddess face, she stepped forward and took her hands into hers. “We did not know you were still working together! Me and my husband will never tarry in coming to his aid, do not fear. What do you know of this curse?”

Shao Wan dropped her head dejectedly, but without pulling her hands away. “Only that I was very wrong about it,” she whispered under her breath.

“We need to reverse it!” Bai Qian said agitated.

“I hope you find a way, Fox Queen,” Shao Wan said and gently freed her hands this time. “I used to be jealous of you,” she said with a small laugh, eyeing Bai Qian with narrowed eyes, “jealous of you and your affair with Mo Yuan before moving on to his brother.”

“There was never any affair between me and Shifu,” a spluttering red-faced Bai Qian managed to say. “In fact I never knew he had such -,” she clammed up and wanted a hole to swallow her up.

“I know there wasn’t even though he had such strong feelings for you. But...for someone like him to have given his affections means the person on the receiving end was worthy. That’s what made me jealous.”

“Ancestor, I never felt that way for Shifu. To me, he was… he is my Teacher, my Father, someone I will respect for all my lifetimes. I cannot even imagine…,” she finished with a shudder. She took a deep breath. “If he gives his affections to people who are worthy, then you are worthy. The two of you are fated and meant for each other - just like I am meant for the Crown Prince. I have never seen my Shifu so...alive as when you were with him. My sincere hope - and I know that’s his brother’s too - is for this accursed war to end and for the two of you to settle your differences once and for all. We will gladly accept you into the family.”

At the end of her speech, Bai Qian was not sure but she thought she saw the glint of tears in the other woman’s eyes. Before she could confirm though, Shao Wan stepped back so that she stood fully in the dark and gave a brief nod with her head.

“I thank you for your kindness. I...I have something else I need to give you. Something...very dear to my heart.”

It seemed to take the Demon Ancestor a lot of effort to say this. She nestled in her clothes and pulled out a very pretty flask. Despite the darkness, it shimmered in all the colors of the rainbow when one squinted one’s eyes. Shao Wan looked at it for the longest time and then sighed deeply.

“Could you do me the favor and deliver this as soon as possible to Kunlun? It is a small keepsake from our time together the the mortal world. I believe it will help Mo Yuan shake the curse once he sees it. It would be a great surprise if it were already at Kunlun once he returns from the war. I don’t have easy access to Kunlun anymore, whereas you...”

Bai Qian nodded and extended her hand to take the flask. For a moment, it looked like the Demon Ancestor didn’t want to part with it at all, but with another sigh that almost sounded like a sob, she handed it over. Bai Qian suddenly had an ominous feeling and unprompted, she whispered to the other woman to take care of herself.

“Thank you, Crown Princess. May you be well. Goodbye.” The Demon Ancestor melted into the darkness without another word.

Sighing, Bai Qian rushed towards the camp, with the information of where Mo Yuan was held prisoner. Soon, she could hear voices and see fires. A very strong desire for the warm embrace of the light of her world gripped her.

I understand now how it looked to everyone including my parents when I kidnapped Shifu and fed him blood from my heart for so long. I understand how it may have looked that I was so free with him before and after his death. I never cared for the gossip then.

When Shifu had sacrificed himself there was no way I wouldn’t have kept him with me. I had to. I didn’t care that I became a hermit, almost a mythical creature seen only by my family. All that mattered was that I had a debt to pay to Shifu and I was determined to do it any way I could. Over the decades all that mattered was that he would wake up and I would hear him call me his Seventeenth again.

I was happy to live my life hiding away from my marriage betrothal but Fate had other plans and brought me Ye Hua. Ye Hua, who came along and broke down all my defenses.

Ye Hua! He, too, must have known about how his brother felt about me.

Shifu may not have known what he was doing, but I am grateful he told me. He is my most beloved teacher that I owe so much to and it changes nothing between us - only that I will behave more properly and show him all the respect that he deserves and more.

Shifu … we will come rescue you. You won’t have to wait for long

Chapter 98