Chapter 47b

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written by kakashi
edited by Panda 


"We need to talk, Celestial," Shao Wan said and pulled his arms apart so that she could move out of his lap and generally away from him.

"Yes," he agreed immediately. It was that simple, yet so complicated.

"Can I hold you?" Mo Yuan asked softly.

Maybe it would be easier if she did not have to look at his face, Shao Wan thought after a glance at his soulful eyes, and nodded, moving close again, nestling down next to him. His right arm was her pillow and his left arm went around her waist, right after flicking off the candles for the second time tonight.

She lay in his arms for a while, silent, collecting her thoughts, forcing her body to fully calm down despite the tempting presence right behind her.

"You never talk to me about the war," she finally started.

He remained silent. "You don't trust me, do you," she added. "Are you thinking I could betray you?"

"Shao Wan..."

"You should. I would consider you an idiot if you told me your military secrets. I used to be the Demon Overlord and I want to become...I will be the Demon Overlord again."

Now she regretted not seeing his face. It was hard enough to read his facial expressions - knowing what he might be thinking from his breathing or his body tension alone was impossible. Was he shocked? Or had he been expecting it?

"I will not betray my people," she continued, "and I will be ruthless against anyone standing in my way. Anyone."

Including you, she thought, do you hear me?

"I hear you," Mo Yuan said.

"Killing you is the dream of every demon child, because killing you would make them High Gods or High Goddesses instantly and probably assure them a crown or two. Those that do not dream about killing you because they know how strong you are, curse you, routinely, before going to bed. In short, there is no way you can prevent this war from happening, too many demons are itching for it."

He probably knew that already.

"Neither can I, even if I wanted to. I have lost my credibility among my people because I have been hiding on the Celestial holy mountain for so-"

"Shao Wan, I -"

"Let me speak. No apology of yours will change this. We Demons strive on fighting and killing. We value strength and slyness. I will have to prove my worth again to survive in my realm after I leave here. I was wounded by Cheng Yin, I was kidnapped by the God of War, stripped off my powers and I "married" him, our biggest enemy. There are many still that are afraid of me, but fear alone won't be enough to make them follow me."

She fell silent and he said nothing.

"We have a common enemy, Celestial, but that's where it ends. In this coming war, I cannot stay on the sidelines. You know that."

"I was hoping..." Mo Yuan's voice trailed of and he hugged her closer.

"Don't be a fool, Mo Yuan."

They fell silent again.

"Let me tell you a few things about Cheng Yin, Celestial," she continued after a while. "I think I know him better than anyone and I feel that I can pass this intelligence on to you without jeopardizing my own plans."

He shifted behind her, as always uncomfortable when she brought up the Yellow Demon King. She felt uncomfortable herself, she had never spoken to anyone about her time with Qing Jiāng's son in all the disturbing details. It was unlikely that it would not change how Mo Yuan saw her. But she had been used to the God of War's contempt before, so she should be able to easily go back to it.

"Qing Jiāng was a brutal, ruthless man," she began, "you've met him, you know. I took his son hostage to teach him a lesson, to get to him, but the truth is, Qing Jiāng wanted his son to be taken prisoner by me after I left your father's school. He set it up and he made sure I would fall for that trap. I did. Cheng Yin was-," she struggled to find appropriate words.

Mo Yuan kept silent and she was grateful for it. She found it harder than she had thought it would be.

"I don't know exactly what Qing Jiāng did to him, but his boy was... warped. Thoroughly and deeply damaged. In my foolishness, I believed I was in control of the situation. I... I mistreated him. I wanted to break him, to crush his will, to destroy him - but that was not possible. He liked it, all of it. The more horrible I was, the more he wanted of it. So I was more horrible. It was exhilarating."

When she thought back to the time before the Demon War, she felt like she had lived in a haze of rage and lust for a while.

"I realized too late what present Qing Jiāng had given me. His son changed me, not the other way round. Qing Jiāng's demon spawn slowly turned me into a monster, by bringing out the worst in me and making me like it. I am not sure what happened exactly, but one day... one day, I suddenly woke up, like from a dream. My head was clear and I realized that I had become a puppet in Qing Jiāng's hands because of my lust for power. I threw Cheng Yin out and tried to sever all ties. That was ... not easy. He often came to my gates and begged to see me on his knees. Sometimes, I let him in."

Yes, Mo Yuan, I am that weak, she thought. I have come to believe that Qing Jiāng managed to drug me back then to make me so crazy, but that's just an excuse or wishful thinking. I could tell you I regret it now, but it makes no difference.

"Things have changed. Cheng Yin today is no longer weak and part of what he has become is my doing. He became a High God when he killed his own father. I hear he is immune to all poisons, like his father was. I heard rumors about the experiments he does. I... Celestial, he enjoys pain, a lot. He also has a taste for giving pain, the more the better. I taught him how to find out where to hurt someone the most and go for it."

Mo Yuan still said nothing. She realized she had been waiting for a reaction - anything. Most of all, she had waited for him to be shocked. But of course, he would never express his shock openly.

"Celestial, I... I want you to be very cautious when you go up against him. He is more dangerous than you think."

"I always am cautious, Shao Wan," he said softly.

She snorted. "Then what about you giving the Bell of the East Emperor to the Ghost Clan during the Demon War? And then sacrificing your own soul to seal it millennia later? You're a strange man if you call that cautious."

"I will not sacrifice my soul again. Once was enough."

She knew that was a lie. Of course he would sacrifice his soul and his life again for the realms. It was who he was, nothing would ever change that.

"You do not believe me, do you," he whispered, "then let me share something with you as well. Do I regret what I did? Yes, every day. Not that I gave my soul to save the worlds, that was not my choice to make - but I regret that I made a foolish promise to return."

He fell still again, to collect his thoughts.

"I remember every second of the 70'000 years, even though I no longer existed as a coherent entity. The agony I felt is beyond anything I can express in words. But I had made her a promise to return and I was compelled to keep that promise, even if it meant defying the most powerful rules of the universe. Si Yin kept my body intact for 70'000 years with ancient fox magic, by feeding me her heart's blood. She almost died from it. She says she did what she did to repay me for taking a lightning trial for her, for being her mentor for 20'000 years - but ... I was her Shifu and it is my duty to protect my disciples with my own life. I feel indebted to her. My brother, Ye Hua ... he, too, almost died to bring me back. These sacrifices, they weigh heavily on my soul."

Shao Wan struggled to grasp the full meaning of what he was saying. Her heart's blood? And she had still chosen his brother in the end? What a cold, brutal woman that Fox was. One thing she understood very clearly though: Mo Yuan had defied the most powerful rules of the universe - those of life and death, the everlasting balance - for love. It touched her, deeply. Even knowing that love had been for another.

"A calamity killed my brother in my mother's womb. I was the lucky one who survived. I did not know about my brother until before my Father passed into the Nothingness. He had managed to save his spirit and gave it to me to protect and cherish here at Kunlun. The day I died, Ye Hua came into the world. Clearly, the universe only wants one of us alive. And I am not sure... no, I am sure that fate did not mean for me to return. I am afraid that my mere existence puts them both in danger. I realized that her and my brother - they are destined to be together. I want to shield them from any more trials and heartache. I don't know how. But I want them to be safe and happy."

A powerful promise made because of love, only to find that love to be one-sided, transformed, moved on to someone the spitting image of himself? She took a deep breath. To know he had suffered greatly and continued to suffer brought her no joy at all - it made her heart ache. To hear the truth about fate's cruelty towards him made her angry. But she felt something else, too, something that she identified in a moment of clarity and surprise as jealousy, an emotion she had previously been unfamiliar with, but had read so much about in mortal plays.

To hear him speak about that other woman like this, like he still loved her despite of everything, like he always would love her despite knowing he could not have her - it hurt her. But how could she even begin to understand a love so deep it defied death? It must be timeless. This was one great mess between three tightly connected people. She had no place in that. More importantly, she wanted no place in it.

She welcomed the painful truth, because it was a truth she needed. It would make it easier to think back to her weeks on Mount Kunlun with no bitterness and no regrets. She would try to cherish the memory - as memory. It had to be a thing of the past, with no resonance in the future.

"Let's be entirely truthful tonight," she said, steeling herself, "it is the least we owe each other."

He nodded. "Yes."

"You will do what is your duty to do, I understand and honor that. But I want you to promise me this, Celestial: that you will not throw away your life wantonly."

"A life is never sacrificed lightly," he answered. "It is not a thing I need to promise."

"Good. Then I want you to promise me that, if we meet on the battlefield, you will fight me to the fullest of your abilities."

He hesitated slightly. "I... yes. I owe you that."

"Good. Then promise me that you will try to kill me if killing me is necessary to win the war."

"No," Mo Yuan said and withdrew his arms from under her head and from around her waist, scrambling up. "No, Shao Wan. I will not promise such a thing. No."

"So you'd rather be killed by me than save your own life? You cannot be such a fool," she said, facing his shadow.

"I will not kill you," he said with emphasis, "never. Shao Wan, you mean too much-"

"I do not want to hear your sweet words, Celestial," she interrupted him harshly. "What did you think, you could keep your Demon trophy locked away on your holy mountain forever? I did not realize you were capable of lying to yourself. Have you forgotten who I am?"

He said nothing. The damn darkness made it impossible to see anything.

"You are no trophy to me," he finally said in a soft, calm voice. "Have I not shown you clearly enough? I have no wish to hold you back against your will, Shao Wan. But that does not mean we cannot-"

"You do not seem to understand, Celestial. Have you always been this dense? If you want to even stand a chance in the upcoming war with the current state of your army, you need to give it your all. You need to be in full control of your abilities. You need to be ruthless and cold. You cannot hesitate. If you do, you are as good as dead."

Silence fell between them once again.

"I will unseal your powers tomorrow," he said.

"Good. It is time."

"You will leave."

"Yes, I will."

"Will you be safe?"

"Let this be of no concern to you at all, Celestial. Have you not heard me?"

"I will let you go."

She laughed. "You have no right to keep me on your blasted mountain. You had no right in the first place. Be glad I enjoyed myself as much as I did. I will bear you no grudge and we owe each other nothing."

He moved in the dark, too quickly for her to draw back, and cupped her face in his hands.

"I understand what you are trying to do, Shao Wan," he said. "I appreciate your concern. But you are mistaken if you think I give away my heart lightly and am swayed easily from what I have set my mind to."

His heart? Foolish man. Did he not know what they said about her? 'Shao Wan, the Demon Queen, who eats the hearts of men for breakfast'.

"How dare you talk about your heart," she hissed. "I want nothing to do with it."

"I refuse to believe that, Shao Wan." But he let go of her face.

"You stubborn fool," she retorted bitterly, "have you not been punished enough already? You defied death for a woman who did not want your heart when you awoke, probably never wanted it, and now you have to fear for her's and your brother's lives because of it. How is it possible you did not learn from such a grave mistake?"

The sudden brightness of the candles in the room blinded her.

"Get dressed," he said, very coldly.

He already was fully clothed. His hair was up and not one strand was out of place. There was nothing warm or welcoming about him anymore. She caught a glimpse of his burning eyes, before he turned his back on her.

"I will unseal your powers right now. You can leave at your own convenience after," he said without looking at her after she had put on her gown. "Please follow me to the elixir chamber, Demon High Goddess."

Mo Yuan and Shao Wan (三生三世十里桃花) - Vol. 1 [COMPLETED]Read this story for FREE!