Chapter 26

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written by kakashi

It was simply laughable. Mo Yuan, the most venerated Taoist Master in all the realms, sat in his meditation cave and failed spectacularly at meditating.

Unnerved, he opened his eyes. It was pointless to try and sit still if all he could do was fidget around like the most inept beginner. Would he ever be able to settle back into his old routines?

'Certainly not if that woman keeps making trouble,' Mo Yuan thought and got up. He knew it was unfair to blame Shao Wan for his own inability to concentrate, but it was her he could not stop thinking about.

After spending the required amount of time with his bride and her father, who was desperately trying to save this marriage alliance despite his daughter's grave misconduct, he had rushed to the Demon encampment to find Shao Wan. But she was gone. There was no trace of her or her Mount anywhere, also not the next day, when the Purple Queen had come to honor her promise to escort Shao Wan to her palace as a guest.

What else should he have done than return to Kunlun with Sixteenth and First Disciple?

He should have gone in search of her immediately, that's what he should have done. He should have trusted his gut, which told him something was wrong. But he hadn't gone because his head had stopped his body. The political consequences of him going to the Demon Realm after the festival and everything that had happened between him and Cheng Yin were likely to be considerable. As a result of not going, he was so worried by now that he had lost his appetite and wasn't sleeping well. How could she have disappeared without a trace? It had been days.

He stepped outside the cave, into the crisp air of Kunlun. The day was particularly clear, with hardly any haze so that he could see unusually far. Not that staring in the direction of the Demon Realm helped his peace of mind. Maybe it was time to design a new weapon to collect himself, he thought, taking a deep breath. Or he should make a new batch of wine. He even considered going up to the Nine Heavens to pay Ye Hua a visit.

Mo Yuan had almost reached the hall when he saw Sixteenth approaching. His disciple was running. Trouble?

"Shifu," Sixteenth exclaimed, out of breath, "there is a magical beast at the Gates. It is heavily wounded, almost its entire cultivation is gone. It refuses to identify itself, but whatever it wants, it seems urgent. I think you should come and see for yourself."

***

Mo Yuan recognized Fong Hung immediately, despite his altered appearance. Hot rage engulfed him. Shao Wan's Mount was in such a poorly state, it must have taken him days to drag himself from the Demon Realm to Kunlun Mountains like this.

"Where is she?" Mo Yuan pressed out between gritted teeth. He was ready to rip Cheng Yin into a thousand pieces.

The large toad tried to form words, but could only croak feebly. Mo Yuan signalled to one of the disciples to bring the animal a small stick.

"Draw a map in the dirt," he told it, "and write instructions. Do you remember how?"

The toad did. It first tried to clutch the stick in its bloody hands like a human, but failed. It used its mouth afterwards. It was painfully slow and Mo Yuan had to probe Fong Hung with many questions until he understood that a heavily wounded Shao Wan was hidden in the Barren Mountains, in a sealed cave that Fong Hung had marked with toad venom.

There were thousands of caves in those mountains, Mo Yuan knew. But he was ready to search all of them until he found her. If only he wasn't too late.

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