Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 35a (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 35a

written by kakashi
edited by LigayaCroft & Panda

An experienced strategist like him knew: In certain situations, lengthy planning helped not a thing. Rather, some of them needed to be approached with swift, decisive action and minimal preparation because time was sparse and options were few.

This - this was one of those situations. They were decidedly not his favorite.

Feeling a twinge of apprehension, Mo Yuan cleared his throat before he began. “It is like this: The three of us find ourselves stuck in this mortal world until we have regained enough of our powers to return to the immortal realms. In the coming days, we will have to concentrate hard on gaining cultivation and... are you even listening?”

Two heads snapped around. “Yes, Shifu,” Bai Qian murmured, her cheeks turning red rather charmingly. “I will work hard.”

Shao Wan remained stubbornly quiet, but kept eyeing Bai Qian from the side with a stormy expression. Mo Yuan cleared his throat again. “Nineteenth?”

“You claim I agreed to be one of your disciples? I can’t remember that at all,” Shao Wan declared angrily. “It’s simply ridiculous.”

Her terrified chatter in the hut previously indicated that her memories were in disarray and she had difficulties judging whether she was asleep or awake. He was considerably worried, since he had a mounting suspicion what the cause for this might be - but he could also not help feeling a little suspicious that she knew quite well how to manipulate this situation to her benefit even without any memories.

“I made you my disciple,” he explained patiently for the third time, “for your protection, when you were in the other body.” A now dead body, he understood. How close they had come to being too late... “You agreed. The agreement is still valid.”

“I refuse to believe it,” she snuffled, “I would never bow to you.”

“That other Disciple… Tian Gu, she called you Nineteenth,” Bai Qian chimed in, “I witnessed it. And you wore Kunlun garb.”

“Even if!” Shao Wan complained, “am I not older than her? Why is she my senior? I don’t want to be Nineteenth!”

“I was his student for twenty thousand years! Of course I’m your senior!” Bai Qian explained in a snippy tone.

“And what if I do not accept this reasoning of yours?” Shao Wan snapped back. “I know him much more intimately than you!”

“Be quiet now!” Mo Yuan commanded, using his most authoritative voice. To his relief, it seemed to help. Both shut their mouths, displaying two angry tight lines in two beautiful female faces.

Mo Yuan had gotten the flustered Bai Qian to recount exactly what had happened at the Blood Grove once they had woken her up from her makeshift bed outside. It seemed Shao Wan’s soul and the souls of their children had left Bai Qian’s body on their own volition instead of sitting in their host quietly until Shao Wan’s body could be properly prepared for the soul swap by Fong Hung. Because soul swapping took a large amount of energy, the Soulswappers relied on Demon Tower devices or captured Crazed Ones for their practices. Since those were not available, Shao Wan’s soul had simply taken what was there at the time: Bai Qian’s powers and all the power from the Dragon-Phoenix Blood.

And now, all three of them were stuck with no powers.

It seemed like only yesterday that Shao Wan had braided his hair in that Demon arena, when he had first come to realize what treasure she carried. She had asked him to trust her and he had - despite what should have been his better judgment. He had never trusted anybody when it came to making plans that endangered other lives before, simply because he needed to be absolutely sure he had thought of all the eventualities and knew how to manipulate the outcome. And yet, when she had insisted they needed the High Goddess Bai Qian to help them, he had agreed to this part of the plan too, emotional fool that he was. Have her take Shao Wan’s real body from the mortal world since he was going to be afflicted by magical biteback and bring it back to the immortal realms had sounded foolhardy to him, but it seemed safe enough for his former Disciple and he knew how capable a warrior she was.

That he was dealing with somebody who never ever played by the rules… had he forgotten?

But how could he possibly be angry with her despite of everything? The crisis was by far not over: The babies were still demanding a lot of energy that she did not have - and neither did he at the moment.

“We will follow a rigorous schedule,” he informed them, “we rise very early and meditate until sunrise. Then, we will practice martial arts, after which we will meditate ag…”

“And when will we eat?” Shao Wan interrupted him moodily.

“Yes, Shifu! We must eat,” Bai Qian agreed, nodding eagerly.

“Fine, we will take turns cooking and…”

“I cannot cook,” Shao Wan declared.

“Me neither, Shifu!” Bai Qian replied, “I have tried a few times, but I simply cannot seem to get it to taste right or not to burn. I can collect fruit though!”

“Fine,” he said, “then I will cook. It will be a strict diet according to the Shenxian Zhuan (神仙傳). The only ingestion will be of herbal compounds. We must abstain strictly from meats, leeks and scallions and grains.”

“Shifu, Shimu is pregnant!” Bai Qian complained. “You must make sure she gets everything she likes and can maintain her strength!”

“What do I need to eat to maintain my strength?” Shao Wan perked up.

“Oh, there is a variety of foods,” Bai Qian explained, “but definitely lean meat and fish! Fresh fruit and vegetables and grains! And eggs. I ate lots of eggs.”

“She says I must eat those things!” Shao Wan said to Mo Yuan in a whiny tone.

Mo Yuan frowned. Was it true? It could be. He looked at Seventeenth, who nodded forcefully.

“Fine, no strict Taoist diet for you,” he agreed with a sigh. Once they all regained enough cultivation, they would not need to eat much anyway, he thought. Eating impurely for a few days should not be a big deal.

“If I see her eat these tasty things, I will suffer,” Bai Qian pouted. “So unjust!”

“Alright!” he said exasperated, “no diet for you either - but you meditate and work on your breathing. Extra hard.”

“Yes, Shifu!” both of them said in unison.

Suddenly suspicious, Mo Yuan examined their beaming faces. He certainly did not want for them to fight all the time, or rather, that had been a major concern of his - but it suddenly felt like they had come to a secret agreement to contradict him at every turn. If this continued, he thought, he would probably also be the one doing the cleaning around here.

“Looking at you sitting here all stiff and proper, I suddenly remember a much better way to gain cultivation,” Shao Wan grinned at him wickedly at that moment, throwing him completely off. He stared at her mouth and her tongue that slowly moved along her lips in sensual anticipation. His heart picking up speed, he groaned inwardly. It had been mortifying, absolutely mortifying to realize Seventeenth was outside the thin door when he had finally been able to touch Shao Wan’s real body again. It had been so long. It… a shudder raced up his spine. He did not want to suppress his desires, but he absolutely had to.

“Is it true you Demons gain cultivation through fighting?” Bai Qian asked, excited.

“Uhm… yes!” Shao Wan replied, “that too. I suggest we shorten meditation to the time before sunrise and fight for the rest of the day. And at night, we...”

“Nineteenth,” Mo Yuan said sternly, trying to control his blushing, “Seventeenth is no Demon, this will not benefit her. But all the mortals and immortals benefit equally from breathing exercises and meditation.”

Both women pouted.

“You two start with your exercises - you are to lead, Seventeenth,” he said and got up, suddenly feeling like he needed to get away for awhile, “I will go bring back the horses and look for food. I wish it were different, but it will likely take us weeks to gather what we need.”

Their cheerful “Yes, Shifu!” almost brought a smile on his face, but as he walked away, unease took over forcefully. Swift, decisive action was one thing, but what was a General to do if his troops had a mind of their own?


“My spirit darted forth and did not return to me,
And my body, left tenantless, grew withered and lifeless.
Then I looked into myself to strengthen my resolution,
And sought to learn from where the primal spirit issues.
In emptiness and silence I found serenity;
In tranquil inaction I gained true satisfaction.
I heard how once Red Pine had washed the world's dust off:
I would model myself on the pattern he had left me.
I honoured the wondrous powers of the Pure Ones,
And those of past ages who had become Immortals.
They departed in the flux of change and vanished from men's sight,
Leaving a famous name that endures after them.”

“What is it that you’re reciting?” Bai Qian asked her Shifu’s wife, feeling strangely touched by the sadness in her voice.

“It’s the Yuan You (遠遊) poem, I had to learn it when I went to Taoist school in the mortal realm before,” Shao Wan sighed. “It describes a spiritual journey into the realms of gods and immortals.”

She had ascended to immortal life not long ago, Bai Qian remembered, and felt very impressed by such a feat. And it had not even counted as ascension trial in her case!

“Was it…”

“It was tedious. So tedious,” Shao Wan quickly said, as if it pained her to think about it. Maybe something bad had happened to her? Like when she had been Su Su. Those times… they still gave her nightmares.

“Yes, it is,” Bai Qian sighed in sympathy, “I always hated meditating. But you know, I learned my lesson with Shifu: If we do not cultivate enoug, he will just carry all the burden by himself. There was that one time he…” her voice trailed off. Better not talk about it before this woman, she realized. She was likely to misunderstand.

“He kills people, but he has no regard for his own life either,” Shao Wan said bitterly, “I know this only too well.”

Bai Qian frowned at the Demon High Goddess. Why was she this bitter? Had she not given her life too? Given her own life and at the same time, jeopardized the lives of her children… maneuvering Mo Yuan to be the executioner. What a reckless, audacious, crazy thing to do. She wasn’t quite sure whether she should feel outraged or impressed, or both at the same time. They suit each other, she thought instead. Shifu, I think you and her… you are perfect for each other. She makes you alive in ways I could not…. nobody else ever could.

“So you really are no Blood Demon?” Shao Wan murmured. “There are times I am not certain…”

“I’d have eaten you alive if I were!” Bai Qian grinned, “nobody has ever tricked me like you did.”

“I am sorry,” Shao Wan murmured almost inaudible. “He is very angry with me because of it. I made a mistake. I thought...”

Bai Qian shrugged and waved her hand through the air magnanimously, seeing how nothing bad had happened in the end. Apart from a few moments of confusion on her end about whom to snuggle up to. “Let’s say I understand how desperate you were. He will too. He likes to appear aloof and stern, but by the Old Ones, when you were gone… We were very much afraid for him.”

“I know I am in your debt,” came the somewhat meek reply. “And not only for this time. Before… you brought the flask to Kunlun.“ She rubbed her belly. “Without you, I don’t know…”

“Do not even think it,” Bai Qian cut the other woman off. “It is bad luck. Think of happy things, it will benefit your children.”

The Demon Queen nodded, but the sadness and doubt did not leave her face.

“You mustn’t worry too much,” Bai Qian tried to cheer her up, “so many women have children in the world, and most manage perfectly well.”

“I…,” her Shifu’s wife began, but did not seem to comfortable enough to continue. But Bai Qian understood nonetheless. She herself remembered well how difficult it had been during her pregnancy, alone in the mortal world, and how scared she had been about the changes in her body.

“You won’t be alone,” she told the Demon woman, thinking of her own family with a pang of homesickness, “everything is easier when you have people around you who love and support you.”

“I will go and sit at the lake,” Shao Wan said abruptly and got up. “Th… thank you,” she added more quietly. Bai Qian nodded at her and closed her eyes, to try and meditate like she had learned so many millennia ago at Kunlun Mountain.

She must have fallen asleep, because she came awake when she heard footsteps. Opening her eyes wide, she saw her Shifu stride into the courtyard, release several flapping chicken and a rooster from a bag, put some grain out for them and walk towards the house with two other large bags.

“Shifu, you’re back!” she said happily and went to help him. They stowed all the provisions in the pantry and once it was all very orderly and he looked satisfied, he went to chop firewood. Bai Qian, who had followed him outside like a little duckling, watched him handle the axe with great proficiency. Of course: The brothers didn’t do anything without it. She had yet to find a task they did not excel in.

“Will you gain cultivation from watching me work?” he asked when he was done, wiping some sweat off his brow. She blushed and coughed to cover up her embarrassment. What was she thinking ogling him like this?

“Can you make a fire?” he added, while arranging logs into a pile.

“I… well… I can try...”

She must have looked as doubtful as she felt, because he just shook his head laughing and swiftly went to build the fire himself, her standing stupidly to the side again. “But you can fetch water, yes?” he said and handed her two pots.

Soon, rice was boiling on the stove and next to it a soup that smelled delicious. Bai Qian’s stomach growled loudly.

“Should I fetch your wife?” she asked, “she went to the lake earlier.”

“No,” came the curt answer, “I need to talk to you alone.” He gestured for her to follow him into the other room.

“Please have a seat,” he said and had her sit at the table, lowering himself down onto a chair too. “I am asking your permission to touch you,” he then said.

“Sh… Shifu,” she stammered.

“Only your head,” he added drily.

She nodded sheepishly and he put his hand on her head. It tingled a little, not unpleasant. Was he performing magic?

“You shouldn’t…,” but his very grave face made her swallow her words. “Is something wrong?” she asked instead.

“Yes,” he admitted and removed his hand. “There is. But I am not quite sure yet… ” He didn’t say more after that, only furrowed his brow in thought. Bai Qian fidgeted nervously on her chair.

“Ah, don’t worry too much,” he said when he realized her agitation, “it is nothing life threatening and might not affect you at all. I will go get Shao Wan now,” he then added, “please mind the soup and the rice. Don’t touch it, just stir from time to time with the wooden ladle. Gently, not so that it splatters! And…”

“Do not worry, Shifu!” she grinned. “I am capable of minding a soup, I promise!”


He found Shao Wan at the lakeshore, on the dirty ground underneath a large cedar, sleeping restlessly. When he bent down to gently shake her, he noticed that her cheeks and eyelids were wet. To see that she had been crying made his heart contract painfully and he lowered himself down to sit next to her instead of waking her.

I am so sorry you have to suffer still, he thought, gazing upon her still form, dare I hope we can be happy from now on?

But his Father’s words, how could he ever forget them? I have looked at the stars. Should you dare to defy this, the consequences will be very dire, for both of you and all the Realms.

I do not want to believe it! he wanted to scream across the lake, but could he deny he had caused her death twice already? What right did he have to claim he loved her when all he gave her was pain and suffering? What right did he have to become a father when he had not even been able to recognize the spirits of his children while they had been right next to him for one hundred years?

Extending a slightly shaking hand, he put it on her stomach. He could feel nothing concrete, just like a mortal would feel nothing, but the knowledge what was growing there was enough to almost bring tears into his eyes. But why… why was he so afraid?

“Mo Yuan?” she said groggily, “What are you doing?”

Her eyes were open, looking at him in wonderment… changing to wariness when he didn’t answer. Slowly, he took his hand back. Something was off. Or rather… more off than before.

“Where are Dong Hua and Zhe Yan?” she asked and scrambled into a sitting position.

When he had awoken at Yanhua Cave, he had thought he was dreaming. His confusion had lasted for several days, but given millennia of practice in hiding his thoughts, he had been good at keeping his confusion from everyone, including Zhe Yan. But for a long time afterwards, he had repeatedly not been sure about what was real and what was imagination, especially since he knew that nightmares had a place in both reality and dreams. Later, when he had battled Shao Wan in his true form and he had awoken at Zhe Yan’s Peach Blossom Garden, he had been similarly confused, and just recently, after escaping the Soulswappers, it had been the same.

He had suspected for a long time that these recurring issues stemmed from shifts of power between his physical and his spiritual soul, creating a temporary imbalance between his Ying and his Yang. Whenever he transformed, a part of his spiritual soul was momentarily dislodged from its physical anchor and needed time to find home again.  

In Shao Wan’s case the symptoms seemed to be similar. He had come to the conclusion that parts of her soul had gone missing. But why would she lose even more of her memories after sleeping?

Since he could not even begin to solve it as long as they were stuck here, it seemed best to try and see whether some of her memories would right themselves on their own. “We’re in the mortal world, Shao Wan,” he therefore said, “you have only very recently reclaimed your body. Fong Hung hid it in the pool of Phoenix-Dragon blood we left behind many years ago.”

She looked even more puzzled. “We’re not on a mission?” she asked, eying her surroundings. “Why else would I be here with you. And what about my body? It’s perfectly fine! I think you’re playing a prank on me.” Then, she looked down at herself with a start. “What strange thing am I wearing though?”

“One of my robes,” he said. “But I brought you different clothes from town.”

“Are you telling me…,” she eyed him with interest, “that we are talking like civil people right now? What’s more, you give me your clothes? And… you buy me things? Without me even asking?”

“Are you saying…,” he bent forward a little, “you do not remember that you are my wife?”

“Hahahahaha,” she laughed, “have you become funny all of a sudden?”

Mo Yuan shook his head in exasperation. If her memories did not get better, if they got even worse… this could end very badly.

“Did you stick hair into your face as a disguise?” she wanted to know. “It looks silly.”

“Shao Wan,” he said, ignoring her jibe, “do you remember where your Feather is?”

“Of course I remember where my Feather is,” she answered and stretched herself, “but I certainly won’t tell any Celestial. Pah!”

“We are not at school anymore,” he informed her. “It’s the year 401’101 of the 2nd Creation.”

“Now you’re no longer funny,” she said a bit annoyed and got up. “Ugh,” she exclaimed, “I feel like somebody drugged me.”

“Are you hungry? I made soup,” he said and got up too.

She stopped dead in her tracks and stared at him. “For a moment there, I thought I was confused, but now I’m pretty certain you’re the one behaving strangely.”

“And why would that be, Demon Queen,” he answered and stepped a little closer, “you think me incapable of cooking?”

“Incapable of cooking? Hmmmm…. actually, now that you put it that way, I’m not surprised anymore. In fact, you’re probably the best at cooking in all the realms, since you aspire to be best in everything. And...” her eyes settled on his head. “What… huh.”

“It was you who braided my hair,” he informed her. “I hope you remember soon.”

“Preposterous!” she exclaimed, but her voice shook a little. “I would never touch your hair in that way! Don’t you know what it m…,” her voice died off as her face took on an even more puzzled expression.

“No, I don’t know what it means,” he said and stepped closer still, “you never wanted to tell me, but I’m guessing from your behavior it is something very intimate in your culture.”

She swallowed compulsively as her eyes grew a little rounder.

“I asked you to teach me how to braid yours,” he said softly, “in this mortal world, actually. And you promised you would, later. It is later now.”

“You want me…. to… you want to braid my hair?” she squealed, making a few hasty steps backwards.

“Yes,” he answered. “Every day from now on.”

“You… you are in for a severe beating!” she exclaimed, but did not take any aggressive action. Rather, she looked so confused that Mo Yuan felt quite a bit sorry for taking advantage of her current state to dampen his own anxiety. But maybe… maybe, he rationalized, it was better if he did not press her on the truth, at least for the time being? He did not want to scare her.

“You received quite a blow to your head earlier,” he lied to her, “from the bandits. No wonder you are confused.”

“Ah,” she replied curtly. “Maybe that’s why. And of course, you’re having fun torturing me.” But she did not sound overly convinced and when she looked at him again more carefully, her gaze turned questioning.

“Are our powers sealed?” she asked.

“Something like it,” he answered.

“Is it a test?” she wanted to know.

“Most definitely,” he smiled and started walking towards the house, convinced she would follow him. It was important that she ate something for strength. They could deal with this new situation later.

“Alright,” she nodded, “I know it’s important for you to do well in tests. I don’t understand why your Father keeps pairing us up, but since you’re more capable than you look, we should…” her voice trailed off again.

“Yes?” he asked, standing still.

“Wait a minute,” she whispered. “Come here."

Warily, he stepped closer. When he was just a few steps away from her, she grabbed his hand and pulled him into a tight hug without warning. “You,” she whispered into his ear, “you and I are lovers? Even if my head says it’s not possible, my body says it is.”

Her lips were on his before he could think of a sensible reply. Her tongue demanded entry into his mouth and he immediately granted it, though he regretted it that very same moment.

Restraint. He had always had a lot of it, but with this woman, it was an extreme challenge. Not kissing her back was not possible. And what reasons were they to resist again? He did not remember.

“I was right,” she panted when she broke the kiss to peer deeply into his eyes, “we have been doing this before.”

“Yes,” he agreed hoarsely, “and much more.”

“Make me remember it,” she demanded.

“Shao Wan…”

“Now,” she said, sounding panicked, “I feel… lost. I’m afraid this isn’t real, I feel it might turn into a nightmare any moment. I keep dreaming… I keep dreaming about terrible things and when I wake up, I’m not sure I’m really awake or still caught in a dream. I feel there are things I should remember, but I cannot, and I’m afraid that when I do, it is going to be just as horrible as my dreams. Please… if you are really here with me, if what I think is true is true… please help me.”

Her body was trembling in his arms, where there had always been so much strength, weakness threatened to eat away her last sanity. Her defenselessness, her vulnerability, shown to him so openly - it touched him and it shook him and the last bit of restraint dissipated like smoke in the wind.

“I will help you,” he vowed. “I will help you remember. This…” he kissed her again, deeply, “and this.” His hands slid inside his robe she was wearing to caress her skin. Maybe her confusion was spreading to him, but with his heart beating frantically, he suddenly felt like a very young man again, the man who had made love to her for the very first time.

“Fenghuang,” Mo Yuan whispered.

“Yes,” she answered, “but why do I not feel her?”

We need to find your feather, Mo Yuan thought while he was losing himself in another kiss... a possessive kiss: to show her how much he wanted her - a hungry kiss: to convey that he meant to feast on her - a tender kiss: to express that for all his needs, he wanted to cherish her forever… you are not whole.

“Do not let me go,” she begged, “please.”

Forgetting rice, soup, and reason he grabbed her by the waist and carried her over to a sunny patch of grass that looked comfortable enough to lie down on.

Sometimes, swift, decisive action and minimal preparation could bring the most amazing victories after all.

Chapter 35b