Chapter 72

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written by Panda
edited by kakashi

"What do they want?"

"Da-Ge..."

"What do they want?" Mo Yuan looked at his brother impatiently. Surely, it could not be that shocking?

"An alliance, Da-Ge."

"Yes? We want the same."

"... by marriage. The Horse King's daughter with someone from the royal family."

Mo Yuan sighed. He should have seen this coming, if he had not been too preoccupied with other matters. "Whom do they have in mind? The only unmarried ones..."

"...are Uncle Lian Song - and you."

"I'm not of the royal family," Mo Yuan said with a scowl.

"But you are Father Immortal's son...the most eligible bachelor in all the realms. It looks like they want to raise their status among the tribes."

"I would of course do it," said Lian Song, his slightly high-pitched voice betraying his nervousness, "but they particularly mentioned you, High God Mo Yuan."

"But I'll not do it." Mo Yuan said with emphasis and without even contemplating. He had let himself be pressured into marriage once before, with rather disastrous results, and he wasn't keen to find himself in a similar situation so soon.

"I understand, Da-Ge...," Ye Hua said and seemed honestly relieved. Mo Yuan now understood his brother's reluctance to convey the message better: Ye Hua had feared he would feel pressured to commit to something he was antipathetic to. Lian Song on the other hand looked rather spooked now.

"Third Prince Lian Song, you won't have to marry anyone either," Mo Yuan said, making a point to have his gaze linger on Lian Song, whose tense face changed into a relieved grin instantly. "I am sure there are other things we can offer in a negotiation."

"I have heard about this woman," Lian Song said, absentmindedly fiddling with his fan, "that she is very beautiful and very fierce, raised just like a man."

"Yes?" said Mo Yuan. "And? Get to the point."

"If you were to offer...," Lian Song made a dramatic pause.

"Yes, Third Prince? What else do I have to offer beside my body?" Mo Yuan said with a tint of irony in his voice.

"Your tutelage," said Ye Hua's uncle.

The suggestion gave Mo Yuan pause. It was very clever. But a female student? He had firm rules about not taking any female disciples and he had upheld it until Zhe Yan and the Jade Fan of Kunlun had made him admit Si Yin. That, too, had been rather disastrous, all things considered.

"I'll think about it." But Mo Yuan already knew that his options were very limited at this time.

Lian Song nodded his head in satisfaction and excused himself for a bit, while Ye Hua's face remained blank. Not paying any attention to his persistent headache, Mo Yuan glanced at his brother - who looked outright exhausted, at least to an eye who could read that particular face well. Mo Yuan was worried that Ye Hua was overextending himself, something he could not tell his brother because it would offend him. Ye Hua had saved him in the mortal realm, he had come without hesitation to the Peace meeting to support him, and had still found time to visit all the other tribes to get them to commit to fighting in the war. And since the Water Princess death, he had joined forces with Mo Yuan and his disciples to actively look for clues as to who was the culprit.

Yes, Ye Hua had been immensely supportive, on top of his many duties as Crown Prince, while he...he had been despicably self-centered, giving his own personal affairs more weight than his duties.

That had to stop.

With the murder of the Water Princess, the relations between the Water Kingdoms had deteriorated to the point where a civil war among two of the most important pillars of the Celestial army was more than a possibility. The grieving, pompous and narrow-minded King of the East Seas had declared he would take revenge and was already amassing his army at the border to the West Kingdom. It turned out he had had Die Feng spied on ever since Die Yong had run off, so as to prevent a reoccurrence of that embarrassment. Apparently, he had seen the Yellow Demon Princess and Die Feng together before the wedding and was now claiming that his sister's murder had either been planned by both of them or, at least, definitely involved the Princess with Die Feng being complicit.

Of course, there was no possibility of Die Feng being involved in such an act and Mo Yuan was convinced that the Yellow Princess was innocent as well - she was naive and kind, easily manipulated, but definitely not a murderer. To prevent an escalation of the situation, two of his disciples had previously gone to meet Die Feng and this very morning, six more had sought permission to go assist their Senior.

"Da-Ge. Have you sent word to the Ghost realm yet"? Ye Hua's quiet voice interrupted his reverie.

"Yes. We should soon have word from my Disciple who is presently staying there. I trust he will get the Ghost Clans support in this matter. He has to."

Though they did not yet have any solid proof to who was behind the despicable act, the one person who was profiting from this crisis the most was the Yellow Demon King. And as much as Mo Yuan despised that man, he had to grudgingly admit that he was very clever: He had managed to put Mo Yuan into a situation in which every further step let to an undesired outcome. If they did not find the evidence of who had killed the Water Princess quickly, the Western Sea Kingdom would be drawn into a bloody civil war against the Eastern Sea Kingdom. Mo Yuan could intervene with Heavenly soldiers to pacify the situation, leaving his armies weakened and preoccupied with internal matters, a perfect opportunity for the Demons to attack - or he could stand back and watch his allies slaughter themselves, with the exact same result. On the other hand, if they found the evidence and it really pointed to the Yellow King, then Mo Yuan was certain the rash Eastern King would pressure him into starting the war against the Demons immediately to take revenge. Even the West would have an interest to go to war quickly.

"Ye Hua," Mo Yuan said with a sigh, "I fear we need to get ready much faster than we thought. I do not believe any longer that I can prevent this war from happening."

"Yes, Da-Ge. I know that with your guidance, we'll be ready to face our enemies on the battlefield tomorrow."

But I am not ready at all, Mo Yuan wanted to confess to his brother. Ah, how he longed to have some wine with his twin, in the crisp evening air of Kunlun, and to talk about pleasing things that had nothing to do with politics or war.

"Da-Ge, with your permission, it has been a long time since we've last had the chance to speak in private. There is something I am curious about," Ye Hua began diffidently, which immediately put Mo Yuan on guard. He had previously observed that Ye Hua turned more hesitant when he wanted to ask him about personal affairs. And, despite his earlier thoughts, that was the last thing he wanted to talk about right now. Still, he nodded permissively.

"When I found you in dragon form in the mortal realm, I met a small mortal boy. I could detect no spiritual energy around him yet he had no fear of me at all, not even in my true form. He called himself the Son of the Dragon and bade me take very good care of you. It was a most peculiar situation and I must admit, I..." Ye Hua cast a side look at Mo Yuan and immediately backed off. "I am sorry, Da-Ge, I didn't mean to pry."

To say that Mo Yuan was thunderstruck was putting it lightly. Him and Shao Wan had battled for such a long time, traversing so many mortal realms, and yet, in the end, they had ended up in that world? He must have instinctively sought it out in his troublemaking true form.

"Are you not well, Da-Ge?", Ye Hua looked at him with concern, "you are too pale these days. I will ask Zhe Yan to provide you with more elixirs."

Mo Yuan rubbed the barely healed scar near his heart. It hurt him a lot, on and off, and the pain extended into his head, making it hum with constant tension. He considered it a welcome punishment for his recent actions and a valuable reminder to stop being a fool. He even had hoped she would come to Kunlun to see him, for several days. Of course, she had not come.

"It is no matter," he said, but of course, it was.

Ye Hua seemed to debate with himself whether to say anything further, when Chang San came into the room with Lian Song in tow. "Shifu, the horses have been saddled and are waiting for you. Everything is ready for you to commence your trip. Please stay safe."

Since time was of the essence, they were at the Kunlun Gates in no time, where 15th Disciple was waiting with the animals. Two horses carried supplies, the rest was for them to ride. The Xì Mǎ Yú clan was the Horse breeder's clan that lived in the rolling grasslands in the Far West, and their Kingdom had a strict rule that people that came to trade for their horses had to come to them on horses. It was also conventional wisdom to play by someone's rules if one wanted something from a person without applying force.

Plus, it was good exercise for them in preparation for the war, Mo Yuan thought, as he leaped on his horse, took the reins and with a tightening of his thighs motioned to animal to start trotting, even if it cost them time. And it gave him time to focus and move on.

When he had transformed back, he had been even more light headed than usual. However, this time, he remembered every detail of what had happened in perfect clarity. She had touched him, tenderly. He had cried. Never before in his life had his heart ached so much. Saying goodbye to her felt like dying. Breaking his own vow, he had gone to check on her afterwards to see whether the blood therapy really worked, but he had not been able to watch her suffering for long and had left after taking some elixirs form Zhe Yan - also because staying any longer was pointless.

Shao Wan couldn't have made it more apparent that she wanted nothing to do with him again. He was forever the fool, for having dreams about them settling their issues and being able to live together in peace. He hungered for what his brother and Donghua, what Zhe Yan had - to love and be loved back, to give and take, to walk their immortal lives together. He knew how independent Shao Wan was and would have never wanted to bind her to him if she didn't want to. All he had hoped for was that they would have been together. Somehow. Sometime.

It was time he went back to believing it was not possible. He would not push again. He would try and accept that it was his fate to be forever unloved by the woman he loved.

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