Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 17a (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)


Chapter 17a

written by kakashi
editing by Panda & LigayaCroft

The pond has turned out quite well, Mo Yuan thought and surveyed his work with a considerable amount of pride. It’s actually rather small, Golden Dragon grumbled quietly, but I should be able to moisten my skin here nonetheless on very hot summer days. Mo Yuan chuckled. It was so pleasant to be in harmony with his true form, and not having to suppress it.

Finding a source of water underneath the black iridescent rock had been relatively easy, but hacking a big enough hole into the jagged surface to draw it forth had been exceptionally hard work. It now collected in a large, partially natural basin, from which it gently flowed over a terrace of stone and disappeared again between the rocks further down, to continue its journey underground.

He would start planting trees and flowers that Shao Wan liked as soon as Yi Mei Niang provided him with a sufficient amount of good soil. It was a very rare good in these parts, but he would try to bargain a reasonable price for it. Maybe now was the time to solidify that business proposition she had once made, to sell his wines in the Demon Realm. Or maybe he could play another hand.

It had been days since the Rebels had come to the Palace for a demonstration of power. He had met them that evening, but they were not willing to enter into a meaningful discussion much less make any concessions… for that, he would have to travel to meet with their leader Shǒu on his territory, they had insisted.

That could wait. Mo Yuan was nobody’s puppet, neither in the Celestial nor in the Demon Realm. But he would go eventually even if it was just to see more of these interesting lands. He had been taking many notes, but the work on the garden had prevented him from really starting on the book he wanted to write about Demon customs.

Yu Dian had quietly packed his things as he wanted to leave the night of the party, probably to go back to his kingdom, but Mo Yuan had held him back. “I want you to stay,” he had told the Demon in his sternest Shifu voice, and the young man didn’t seem quite sure whether to be relieved or afraid. Truth was, Mo Yuan bore him no ill will. In fact, he found him intriguing. He had let the Rebels go without a fight too. They were not violent, and their discontent was not overly unreasonable since Yi Mei Niang was not taking her role as Overlord seriously enough. He had also not been the God of War for so many millennia for nothing: his battle-honed instincts told him to wait and see who else would make a move as a reaction to his arrival in this Realm.

The Rebels had not mentioned the Cult, but Mo Yuan was certain they were connected. And if they were, then Yu Dian was connected to them too.

Mo Yuan had not told Tian Gu anything about Yu Dian’s attempt to use her, since he did not consider it his responsibility. But apparently, the young woman possessed some people skills of her own, for she stayed away from the Demon since that night, even though it seemed to take her some effort. As her teacher, Mo Yuan liked to see how much more diligently she studied now that her infatuation had ebbed and how she kept herself busy with teaching Demon children martial arts.

Yu Dian on the other hand often looked at Tian Gu from across the room, an air of melancholy around him. Whenever the Horse Princess caught his eyes, she blushed deeply, ducked her head and darted out of the room. Mo Yuan had little interest in the love life of his disciples, but this dynamic was one to keep an eye on - in the end, Yu Dian was not to be trusted and Tian Gu was too easy a target.

“Shifu, Shifu!” the object of his thoughts wheezed as she currently came running from the Palace at high speed, “you must co…,” she swallowed a large winged insect and a coughing fit racked her body as she retched it back up, “blasted be,” she murmured after it was over, “one shouldn’t run in this climate. Oh!” Her eyes grew round, “Shifu! Look at the pond you made! You are truly amazing.”

“Anybody could have done this,” Mo Yuan murmured, slightly embarrassed about the praise, yet still feeling very proud.

“Well, not me,” Tian Gu said and tilted her head to the side, studying his work more closely. “I don’t have any patience, very much unlike you, Shifu. I even want to shout at the Demon children when they don’t understand the moves I’m teaching them right away!”

“Ah,” Mo Yuan said with a small smile, looking at her expressive face with some fondness, “but you don’t yell and that is what counts.”

“I guess…” Tian Gu said and pulled a face. She made a pause before she suddenly remembered with a start why she had come. “Oh, Shifu! You have a visitor! It’s very unexpected.”

Mo Yuan lifted his eyebrows, waiting patiently.

“I’m almost ready to bet my horse you cannot guess who it is.”

“Good that I do not have to guess then,” he replied.

Tian Gu frowned at him and he frowned back until she gave up, pulling another face. “It’s second Disciple Chang Shan! He has come from Kunlun.”

Chang Shan? Was something wrong? Mo Yuan had already started walking towards the Palace at a quick pace. For his Second Disciple to have made this long trip, he imagined it had to be something rather serious.

As he reached the Palace, his Head of Guards informed him his guest was waiting in the Green Room, one of the smaller, yet most glamorous sitting areas with a grand view over the large expanse in front of the palace. Mo Yuan increased his pace and reached the second floor in no time. Chang Shan, wearing a light yellow robe, was pacing back and forth, wringing his hands in great agitation. When he turned and saw his Shifu he fell to his knees and kowtowed, hitting his forehead to the floor.

The alarm Mo Yuan had felt since hearing about his former disciple’s arrival changed into instant bewilderment when a small, thin creature that had stood hidden behind Chang Shan made a horrible, gurgling sound and came flying across the room straight into his arms. The impact of the body crashing into his was slight, since this girl did not weigh much more than a large bag of peaches, but the emotion that rushed through him at the contact was so strong, he staggered and gasped for air.

“How dare you, let go this instance!” Tian Gu shouted and tried to rip the slight female off him, though with no success, she hung on for dear life, her hands clasped around his neck and her legs circling his waist. Chang Shan had sprung up too, shouting “I am so sorry, Shifu, I am so sorry!” and came rushing forward to help disengage this being from his Master.

The strange thing was, Mo Yuan had no wish to part from her.

In fact, he had put his own arms around the girl to press her closely to his chest, feeling a strong urge to protect her. And strangely, it was like a weight was lifted off his shoulders now that she was in his arms, as if, with a shuddering breath, the universe found a more perfect balance. Mo Yuan the Man and Mo Yuan the Dragon sighed in unison.

He felt at peace. 
He felt whole.

“Shifu?” Tian Gu insisted with urgency, pulling at the fabric of the girl’s robe with force, “Shifu, are you alright? Shifu, do you know him?”

Yes, Mo Yuan was about to say, but he realized that this was not true. In fact, he was intimately hugging a stranger - a very young immortal girl who was disguised as a man, a young girl who had the meager powers of a freshly minted Celestial, whose heart was beating so fast it seemed ready to jump out and who was sobbing her eyes out against his chest, wetting the fabric of his robe.

Very gently, he disengaged her hands from around his neck and her legs from around his waist and set her down in front of him. His soul searching abilities were still not back, yet he looked closely and beyond the surface, seeing… something that seemed strange and familiar… like a very strong magic had been put there to hide something important.

The last time he had come across this kind of spell had been when he had examined the rainbow flask.

He also saw something else. First, the masking magic was hurting her, it drew essence from her, leaving her drained and weak. Second, somebody who had cast an illusion spell on her to make her look like a man had also put a tracking spell on her, likely to be able to monitor her movements in secret with a copper mirror. He did not know this particular magical signature, but the Celestial wielder of this magic had been skilled enough.

The creature in front him sobbed and sobbed, reaching out her arms to him like a child who wanted to be lifted up, struggling against Tian Gu, who had thrown her own arms around her to hold her back. His heart reaching out to her, it cost Mo Yuan a surprising amount of self-control not to step forward and hug the thin girl close again to make her tears stop. He gazed into the screwed up, red face, wondering whether he could really dare hope that it might be whom he had longed to see again so, so much? But how… how could this be? His Dragon sense was overwhelmed with confusion, sensing a dear friend, yet seeing a stranger.

“Second Senior,” Tian Gu scolded Chang Shan, “who told you to bring crazy people to Shifu? He is busy enough as it is with these Demons!”

Chang Shan rushed forward at the reprimand to pull the girl even further back, but she managed to free an arm, swung it and knocked her little fist into his face. “Ow, ow, ow!” Chang Shan howled, holding his bleeding nose.

“What business do you have here, Chang Shan,” Mo Yuan inquired quietly, “and who is this person?”

“A… a thief, Shifu,” Chang Shan wailed, “a thief. He broke into your meditation cave! I am ready for any punishment, Shifu. I have failed you.”

The girl gurgled angrily and shook her fist but her tears would not stop flowing. She looked utterly miserable as she turned pleading eyes at him. Mo Yuan pointed at some cushions to the side, inviting her and everybody else to sit down. When the small creature wanted to edge closer to him, Tian Gu immediately pushed between them and glared viciously at the thin thing.

“It’s alright, Tian Gu,” Mo Yuan said. His behavior must look very strange to the other people in the room, but his body longed to touch her again. He had no indication at all that this young girl had anything to do with Shao Wan, but why else would his body react so strongly? Chang Shan looked close to tears himself. “He stole something?” Mo Yuan addressed him. “Something so significant you thought it’s necessary to come here to tell me in person?”

Chang Shan squirmed on his seat. “Shifu… Shifu, he… he shrunk and then swallowed the rainbow flask!!!”

Mo Yuan felt thunderstruck. And then, the greatest disappointment flooded him. That explained what he had seen inside of her. And it explained his reaction. His body was reacting to Shao Wan’s flask, like it had reacted before!

“Is he a mute?” he asked, trying to get his self-control back.

“No!” Chang Shan said, “I heard him murmur ‘It’s all going to be well’!”

“We will get your flask back!” Tian Gu exclaimed, “if he ate it, it will come out eventually! Second Senior, you will have to monitor his shi…,” she threw a look at Mo Yuan, “bowel action!”

Cheng Shan drew in a sharp breath. Mo Yuan shook his head. “I will get it out of him now.”

The thin female gasped in horror and shook her head vehemently. She wanted to jump up and flee, but Tian Gu tackled her to the ground.

“Should I hold her down while you do it?” Tian Gu asked eagerly.
Mo Yuan lifted his hand and performed a sleeping spell. On both women. He even briefly considered doing it to Chang Shan, but decided it would go too far. He moved Tian Gu’s body to the side with magic and knelt down next to the girl that felt like home but looked nothing like the love of his life. He moved his hands over her body, trying to sense the bottle… it was difficult and he wondered whether this was again the result of his messed up powers or part of the masking spell. He had never been apt at healing and as much as he tried, he could not dislodge the bottle nor could he draw it forth and out of the body.

Chang Shan hovered above him, passing part of his agitation on to Mo Yuan.

“Is it not working?” he asked breathlessly.

“It is not working,” Mo Yuan agreed, gritting his teeth. “Do you know where he came from? Did you ask in the Thirty Six Heavens?”

“,” Chang Shan admitted and now his teeth started chattering, “oh Shifu, I should have! He is a newly ascended immortal, is he not? Of course he is!”

“He had help getting out of the Heavens,” Mo Yuan noted, looking at the tracking spell again, “they are on a lock-down at the moment.”

“I have failed you, Shifu!” Chang Shan said and kowtowed again.

Mo Yuan suddenly felt very tired. He sat down again and helped himself to some tea the maids had brought earlier. Tea in the Demon Realm tasted rather strangely, but he was getting used to it. He was getting used to a lot of strange things. He looked at the sleeping girl and sighed again. His heart ached. And it was affecting his head.

“I’ll keep him here,” he then said.

“But Shifu!”

“The bottle is probably my most valuable possession,” he said sternly, “I cannot part from this immortal until I have it back. You on the other hand need to head back to Kunlun. It should not be without a Master for too long, never again.”

Chang Shan looked like he wanted to disagree, but he was too filial. He bowed deeply again, three times and stayed down. “I bear you no ill will,” Mo Yuan told him, taking his arm and pulling him up. “And I will personally inquire in the Heavens about this runaway immortal. You are free of any responsibility.”

After the chagrined Chang Shan had left, Mo Yuan sat next to the thin woman for a while, shooing away all maids and guards, his hand resting on her tummy. He sensed the rainbow flask, but that wasn't all and it left him feeling very confused. One moment he was certain it had to be Shao Wan, the next he doubted everything. Nothing seemed right. Yet everything was.

Later, when he had collected himself somewhat, and had left clear instructions to leave the two sleeping women alone, he went up to the Heavens for some answers. 
On his way there, he suddenly knew what to do: the memory token! He had placed the item that contained her sealed memories in the Palace he grew up in! If he got it back to this thin woman and would have her touch it, he would see whether it reacted to her or not! If she could unseal it, it was really her... his Shao Wan, returned to him. 

However, when he got to the Gates of the Heavens and had demanded entry, he found the place in great turmoil. Apparently, Yinguang Palace was inhabited by a Clan of Turtles who demanded to be accepted as rightful citizens of the Heavens. Lian Song, Ye Hua’s third uncle, had received evidence of who the Celestial traitor was. And when Mo Yuan saw the image of the man shortly after, he knew him immediately. 
“Uncle” Ying Ming. 
The Starlord who had meddled with his trial so many millennia ago.

Chapter 17b