Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 23 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 23

written by kakashi
edited by LigayaCroft & Panda

“I think High God Mo Yuan is about to fall off his horse,” Yue observed matter-of-factly.

Shao Wan whimpered. Somebody wake him up!

They were not the only ones who noticed. The Celestial Prince and the Green Lord Yu Dian interrupted their amiable chatter about New Songs from the Jade Terrace to stare at Mo Yuan, who was tilting to the side ever so slowly.

“I told him so,” Donghua sighed, “but he never listens.”

Zhe Yan had refused to ride a horse since he had his Bifang with him and Mo Yuan had told Donghua he couldn’t cloud jump since he wanted him near. Thus, Dijun got the horse Shao Wan had been on before, since she was the lightest and two members of their party had to double-up. The beast was brown with white ankles and a nasty character. It had quickly realized how weak she was and had taken advantage of it quite successfully. Donghua however was certainly not weak, but he thought it beneath himself to get angry with a horse. If it stopped in the middle of a gallop, he just sat there and admired the countryside and if it tried to throw him off, he just held on a bit tighter until the horse gave up. Eventually, it got tired of it all.

“The Immortal can ride with me!” Yu Dian had gallantly offered.

“No!” Tian Gu had interjected hastily, “Yue’s horse is the strongest. He should ride with him.”

The way the Horse Woman had looked at Mo Yuan greedy for his approval made Shao Wan’s anger flare, but at the same time, she had to admit that she was grateful. Mo Yuan was already doing so much for her, she did not want him to be pressured even more - especially since Lian Song was working on angering him diligently, forming a tight, very friendly couple with the Green Demon Lord, constantly rubbing it under Mo Yuan’s nose.

Shao Wan did not think the Celestial Prince would spill her secret - he was not that kind of person. He must be after an apology, but as long as Mo Yuan’s apology for excluding him from the decision-making did not come - and she would bet a lot it would never come, Mo Yuan was far too stubborn for it - he would be best friend with the man he knew Mo Yuan disliked the most. The people in the Heavens all learned to behave like this, she had observed it first hand. If you could not use your powers openly, you used them cunningly and covertly to get what you wanted. Cheng Yu’s lover happened to be an expert in this game - Mo Yuan, for all his prowess in other things, was no match for him in this.

Yue had bowed politely and helped her up into the saddle. He had steadied her when the pace quickened and otherwise let her hold onto the saddle horn while he held the reins. He was very taciturn and it suited her well - it was dangerous for her to answer questions about herself and she was glad he did not express any curiosity.

But now, he spoke. “He needs his strength once we get to Huang Juéwàng. They will all want to fight him.”

Now she felt like crying. They were very close to the fighting pits, she recognized the landscape and of course, Yue was right: Mo Yua might have come for information only, but such information would not be given cheaply.

“I have seen him fight,” Yue continued, “during the War. It is both beautiful and very frightening to behold. But if he is not himself…”

The Demons would certainly not hold back.

“Please assist him,” she begged, “you know how these fights work.”

Yue said nothing for a bit. “You have guessed correctly,” he then agreed, “I have been to the fighting pits myself, with Demon Ancestor Shao Wan, may her soul rest in peace. It was… a rather horrible experience. She risked her life every single time.”

Oh you silly boy, Shao Wan thought upon hearing the great sadness in his voice, have you still not forgotten me?

“My employer would agree,” Yue then pondered, “and the Princess values him greatly. I will try to do what you ask, if he lets me.”

“High God Mo Yuan, you seem very tired,” Lian Song yelled at Mo Yuan, having ridden close to him, ready to steady him if necessary, “do you need to rest?”

Mo Yuan jolted awake and righted himself in the saddle. He quickly looked around himself in some apparent confusion, checked the hour with a glance at the sun and nodded. “Let’s set camp for the night,” he said flatly, “over there.”

He disappeared from view as soon as the tents had been put up. Should she go look for him? Was it too risky? Zhe Yan, who had joined them, waved at her to come over to him.

“Have you told him?” he asked her with a frown when she had approached.

“W… which part?” she asked back, feeling an unpleasant sensation in her stomach. He couldn't mean the Mr. Mo books, could he. No - Zhe Yan pointed to her midriff.


He knew? She realized she wasn't surprised that he had found out. She was just scared.

“He has to know,” the Old Phoenix said, “but I won’t be the one to tell him. What are you afraid of?”

Many things. Most importantly, Mo Yuan’s disappointment. Anger, she could deal with - anger could be met with anger. But she could not deal with his eyes when they turned sad, when they looked hurt and deject.

She had thought about it for so long and she had come to the conclusion that she should have told him about what she was thinking to do, when they had been in the mortal realm together, that she should have trusted him to do the right thing and not have manipulated him into being the means to her destruction.

It was probably the cruellest things she had ever done in her entire life and she felt very, very sorry she had done it someone she cherished so much.

And then it had been too late - he had not been himself in the dungeons of her Palace, unable to understand what it meant even if she told him. And still, she could have told him, for later … but she had not had the courage. She was too fearful, to unsure whether there even would be a later for her. Was it not better he did not know, in case she would perish for good? In case the souls of their children did not survive the separation from her?

He would probably think she had jeopardized the lives of their offspring, when entrusting the bottle to somebody else to deliver to Kunlun. If that bottle had been lost in between, the souls would not have been able to sustain themselves.

So many horrible “ifs.” They weighed heavy on her soul.

Zhe Yan shook his head at her. “I do not understand you two.”

Not caring whether the curse would hit, she blurted out: “Him and me… deep down, we will always know that we are sworn enemies.”

Zhe Yan continued to shake his head. “He loves you. Enemies? Can’t you just forget about that?”

She slowly shook her head. No, she couldn’t. It was always there, a seed of doubt, a pull into the darkness, a smudge on her love for him. Because she knew, he felt the same and they could never fully trust each other.

But Zhe Yan did not understand and he sounded angry when he said: “Both of you would give your lives for each other. Enemies? It never made any sense to me.”

“His father…” she stopped before the curse could hit and pointed to her throat.

“Pah!” Zhe Yan spat. “His father is just a good excuse. Fuxi is long gone, his son isn’t. But you might have missed your opportunity again, because you know as well as me that he cannot keep drinking that tea.”

She nodded, feeling tears flood her eyes. Yes, she knew. She was about to go tell him to stop drinking it. He should never have started drinking it - the price he was paying was too high. He was trying so hard to make her feel comfortable and to give her hope at night. He held this frail body of hers like it was the most precious thing he had ever touched and he whispered sweet things into her ears. He kissed her with passion and smiled and teased, so unlike him. But she knew he was just pretending for her… the woman he might once have loved was not here anymore. And yet, like a drowning person, she held onto what he offered her - temporary comfort, the illusion of being loved by him, the warmth of his body, the strength he had and was willing to share with her.

“He is near the river,” Zhe Yan said, his face showing a lot of sympathy.

Mo Yuan heard her approach, turned, and quickly took a sip of tea from the waterskin he held in his hand. He saw her wet face and very briefly, his own face took on a look of sorrow before it transformed back into the usual still expression.

“I am so sorry, Shao Wan,” he said and reached out to pull her close.

She started sobbing into his robes, her whole body shaking. The silly man - why did he think he needed to apologize?

“I cannot resist the effect of this brew, as hard as I try, and it lingers... I will only take it every second night and…”

“No,” she pressed out, “no. You stop taking it immediately. I told Yue to help you with what is to come. He has been to the fighting pits. With… with me. Shǒu is not to take lightly and you are not… you are not to be arrogant and…”

Her crying intensified until she almost choked on her tears.

“Don’t fear,” she heard him say, “I will be careful. Do you know how closely connected these rebels and the Soulswappers are?”

She shook her head. “I only know Yu Dian is one of them! He wears their tattoo - a green star at the base of his throat.”

“I fear for you,” Mo Yuan said and held her a little closer. “If they find out who you are…” He took a deep breath. “Shao Wan, I have decided to make you my disciple. Everybody knows better than to meddle with one of mine. And Tian Gu will help protect you, she is quite capable.”


But her protest was feeble, for it made a lot of sense.

“You came looking for me because you had always wanted to be my disciple. You finally passed muster. Nineteenth…,” he took another deep breath. “Please bow to me as your Shifu.”

“Wait! Mo Yuan… she is… I need to tell...”

“Shifu?” said Tian Gu behind her, “do you need me?”

“Yes,” Mo Yuan said and gently pushed Shao Wan way from him, avoiding her eyes. “I want you to meet your junior, Nineteenth. Please take good care of him. Would you be able to give him a set of your white robes until we can fashion him his own?”

“Oh,” Tian Gu said, very surprised. Then, sounding excited. “Yes, Shifu! I will take good care of my junior!”

Quickly, she stepped next to Shao Wan and pulled at her hand. “You must bow now,” she whispered, “three times. I will show you how. Oh, you mustn't cry, I know it’s overwhelming... but you will get used to it. And he is not half as strict as the stories claim, you’ll see.”


Huang Juéwàng stank. It stank so much they could smell it miles away - blood and excrements, but also the excitement of a large mass of bodies. They could also hear it: the clanging of weapons, the roar of the crowd, the screams of the fighters.

The fighting pits were located in the large crater of an ancient, now dead volcano, but even more impressive than the pits was the new city that had sprung up around it more recently. Colorful, skew-whiff houses jostled against each other, seeking strength in numbers from the rough winds that blew here from all sides. People wore their faces screwed up and covered with scarves as protection against the dust in the air and usually, their eyes were narrowed to tiny slits for the same reason. As soon as Mo Yuan and his band of travellers appeared in view however, eyes grew large and the usually solitary people gathered in a growing crowd to watch the arrival of the four Celestial High Gods and their entourage.

It was inviting trouble, Mo Yuan thought as he saw the hostility in the sea of faces, to come here with such strength. People would naturally think this was the first Celestial attempt to intimidate, if not smash the rebel movement.

“You go first,” he ordered Yu Dian. “Make sure they understand we come in peace.”

The Green Lord was nervous again, which told Mo Yuan something important about this place - it was not under anyone’s rule but its own. It was what he needed and what he hoped to conquer … but not with weapons.

“Will they write songs about us?” Zhe Yan wondered out aloud, watching the people to the left and right of them with suspicion. Bifang, in animal form, strutted next to him, using his beak to make more space for himself and his Master.

“You stay close,” Mo Yuan said to Tian Gu, signalling for her to ride right behind him. Yue fell in line too, Shao Wan, the pallor of her skin accentuated by the white student robes, on the horse with him. He shot her a reassuring look, which she answered with a lopsided smile, which was full of pain.

She really needed to rest in a proper bed soon. Maybe Zhe Yan could try a different elixir.

Mo Yuan turned around in the saddle to face forward, fighting the dizziness he was still feeling. Disoriented and sleepy as he might be after drinking Zhe Yan’s brew, it had been worth it, just for the few nights he got to hold her. One did not need to be sensitive to see how much she struggled with her new appearance, one of the best warriors the realm had ever seen stuck in a powerless, frail body of little attractiveness. He knew she had not believed him when he had said it did not matter to him - it was, indeed, hard to believe.

But it was the truth.

It was her, the woman he loved more than his own life, whatever appearance she had. How could he make her see how much he had missed her? That life without her was too empty and only a life with her was worth living?

“High God Mo Yuan,” Yu Dian said cautiously, “their leader has come to meet us.”

In the street ahead, a man had appeared with a large group of retainers behind him. He had a heart-shaped, feminine face, elegant, colored eyebrows and a well-groomed, small moustache. He was also wearing a lot of jewelry. His hair was braided into many braids and woven into them were gemstones of many colors, glittering in the sun.

Mo Yuan lifted his hand to stop his party and had them dismount.

“Come with me,” he ordered Yu Dian and walked forward slowly, his footstep raising small clouds of dust.

“High God Mo Yuan”, said the man whose name was Shǒu, “it is a great honor to welcome you and your fellow travellers to my city.”

He bowed, but not very deeply, and Mo Yuan dipped his head, but only ever so slightly.

“My house is small, but you and your party,” here, he shot Yu Dian a strange look, “are more than welcome to stay there as long as you wish.”

His house wasn’t small at all, which meant there were enough guest rooms for them. All the High Gods got single rooms, Mo Yuan’s two disciples were to share as were the two Demons. That was clearly meant as an insult to Yu Dian, whose high-born status would have merited more than sharing with a mere guard. Without any fuss, the Green Lord accepted his living quarters gracefully - something to commend him for.

Mo Yuan’s room was big, with a very large, soft bed in the middle and lots of blue silk drapery along the walls. Shǒu was clearly wealthy and not shy to exhibit his wealth - a King without a Kingdom but likely just as much power. Mo Yuan declined the maids’ help, washed off the dust from the journey with cold, fresh water they brought for him, changed into a dark green robe, rebound his hair and then made his way down to the living quarters, looking at the artwork and objects exhibited in the hall with interest.

Some of them with particular interest. They were clearly of Celestial origin. And they should not be here.

Shǒu was waiting for him, ten sparsely clothed women of great beauty waiting for his command to serve refreshments.

“Please be seated, High God Mo Yuan. We were surprised to hear you were coming here, but maybe should not have been. I did send you an invitation after all.”

Mo Yuan nodded. “I’ve come for information,” he said.

“Yes,” Shǒu nodded. “For information, and with quite some back-up.”

“Those are just my friends,” Mo Yuan shrugged, “they wanted to see the Demon realm too.”

“And Yi Mei Niang’s man? Can you vouch for him? We do not accept her as Overlord and I don’t want any trouble here.”

“Yes,” Mo Yuan nodded, “I vouch for him.”

“He looks very familiar.”

“Yes, I understand he has been here before.”

“Indeed so,” Shǒu smirked. “In the company of one “Golden Dragon”, one might add. He - or should I say she? - caused quite the ruckus in my fighting pits. She won all the bets and she sold performance enhancers that almost made me go bankrupt.”

Mo Yuan nodded again, chuckling inwardly. Golden Dragon? She must have missed him back then.

“Anyway, I am happy to provide you with the information you seek. But... “ Shǒu paused dramatically.

“Name your price,” Mo Yuan said.

“Before I do that, I will show you my goodwill,” Shǒu smiled and took a large sip of wine. Then, he studied Mo Yuan quietly for quite some time.

“She is not dead,” he then said abruptly.

Again, Mo Yuan made sure not to show a reaction… which was reaction enough for the other man.

“Ah,” Shǒu sighed. “You know already. But do you also know where she is?” He looked at Mo Yuan intently. “Reading you is impossible, of course. I’d say you might. Are you willing to trade this knowledge for mine?”

Mo Yuan remained silent.

“So many of us would welcome her back with pleasure,” Shǒu explained. “Once she is ready... “

Shao Wan’s identity had to stay a secret. At all cost.

“Name your price,” Mo Yuan repeated.

“Very well,” Shǒu said, his face turning decidedly less friendly. “You fight for me in the pits. Ten fights. I choose your adversaries. If you make it out alive, I will tell you anything you want to know. Deal?”

“Deal,” Mo Yuan said without a moment of hesitation.

Chapter 24