Fanfiction3: A-Li's Three Lives, Three Worlds - Chapter 1 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 1

written by Ligayacroft
edited by Panda and kakashi

*Disclaimer: This Fanfiction takes place many, many years in the future. A lot may be changed...but some things remain the same. Characterization is Ligayacroft's own! *

He had barely gone for two days.

So where was she?

Everyone whom A-Li interviewed in the imperial mortal city of Luoyang said the same thing. She had been bound and gagged and thrown in a palanquin, carried off by unmarked men. It was news in Pe Kang Li, her Jìyuàn [1], that its madam could only helplessly watch as the men carried her off into the night and had been inconsolable for many weeks after. To the madam, no amount of money could compensate for the income and prestige lost that her abduction caused for the entire Jìyuàn.

The sinking feeling in A-Li’s stomach hadn’t dissipated since he walked up to her courtyard and found out that she was long gone. Helplessly, he cloud jumped back to Jiuchongtian and grabbed the first person he saw, his Granduncle Lian Song Shénjūn [2], who was idly passing by with that ever-present fan in his hand, probably on the hunt for Star Lord Si Ming to trade the latest salacious gossip with.

“I need to see Si Ming, Shūshu [3].”

Lian Song adoringly smiled at his grandnephew, as usual oddly pleased at the informal address the future Crown Prince of the Four Seas and Eight Deserts used on him. He may be just as old as A-Li’s mother, the Heavenly Empress Bai Qian, but inside he still felt as sprightly as any young stag. Thus, unless completely necessary, such as in formal events, no grandnephew nor niece of his would have the honor of calling him Granduncle if he could help it.

He lightly tapped A-Li’s right arm with the side of his fan. “Eager to see what the future has in store for you and your mortal, are we not, Zhízi [4]?”

Ali shook his head, still in disbelief. “I don’t understand but she’s gone. I was only gone for two days. They said she was abducted.” A-Li paced restlessly, his long hair swinging haphazardly behind him with the worry-induced force in his movements. “Is she dead or is she alive?”

Suddenly, a huge explosion was heard from the direction of Zhu Xian Terrace. Gasps and screams were heard as the foundations and rafters supporting the Thirty-Six Levels of Heaven shook with an intensity that would have leveled down cities in the mortal realm.

Lian Song clung to A-Li for added stability, but his face showed no fear. Just annoyance.

Normally, A-Li would have teased his Granduncle. Ever since he abdicated the throne to Ye Hua, A-Li’s Zēngzǔ Fù[5] had pursued his childhood curiosity of Zhu Xian Terrace with much passion, and got his favorite immortal in on it too. For sure, Lian Song won’t be getting his wife, Cheng Yu Yuanjun[6], back for a couple hundred years again. She and the former Tiānjūn[7] will once more spend a lot of time charting the stars, tides and even events that have happened in both mortal and immortal realms in recent years, to correlate with this latest explosion. The two already had several millennia of data on the paranormal activities of the Terrace but were still looking for the singular thread that tied all the ominous events together.

Good old-fashioned ribbing would have been fun.

But not today.

Today, he needed to see Si Ming.

“A-Li, did you realize—“ Lian Song squeezed A-Li’s arm, his eyes now etched with worry. “You were gone for two mortal years.”

Pain gutted A-Li from the inside now that his granduncle exposed his festering wound.

Two days.

Two immortal days are equivalent to two mortal years. Still adamant not to wallow in guilt but instead do something about it, he stood straighter to mask the pain and turned to walk towards the Star Lords’ Enclave, his granduncle hot on his heels.

The Enclave was one built for size. It was as old as the thirty-six Heavens were and had been built by the Primordial God[8] Youchao under the specifications of Primordial God Heavenly Mother Nüwa. The structure panned from the floor to the Sky Ceiling of the 11th Heaven. It was second only to the Celestial Library in scope and size.

With his lightly tanned skin and his trademark sapphire blue tunic, Si Ming stood out from the other Star Lords milling about restlessly. He was currently facing his section of the enclave, rearranging his vast collection of various-sized jiǎndú[9]. These scrolls were made of bamboo slips and held the personally-crafted stories, or Destiny Ledgers, for each mortal. He had had them since he first became Star Lord 200’000 years ago.

Si Ming spotted A-Li and Lian Song coming his way, and a wide smile broke through his kind and gentle face. After cupping his hands before his chest for the cursory bow, he motioned for his two guests to come join him.

“The quake toppled my scrolls from their shelves, so I’m occupied at the moment. Otherwise how may I serve you, Your Highnesses?”

A-Li had no time to help the Star Lord with his housekeeping but he did need a favor so he started picking up the rolled bamboo slips, calmly following the grateful Si Ming’s directions on where to put what while his shameless granduncle just stood against a post, fanning himself.

“Si Ming, where are the servants in this place? They should be ashamed. Look, their future Crown Prince is doing their duties for them.” Lian Song called out, his nose up in the air. “Although, A-Li, if you insist, you can magick the scrolls to go back to their original places, you know.”

A-Li’s face brightened. Stooping down to pick up then putting the scrolls up in their designated shelves was a repetitive task that didn’t agree with him, so used was he to being waited on hand and foot since he was born.

“The scrolls are sensitive!” gasped Si Ming.”Also, some of them are still active. We don’t want to unnecessarily change in the fates of mortals by imbuing the scrolls with even a hint of unnecessary magick.”

Ah, well.

A-Li resignedly resumed his backbreaking work.

Finally, after the incense clock changed its fragrance three times, they were finished.

“Si Ming,” Lian Song interrupted, putting his face so close to Si Ming’s as the Star Lord gazed rapturously at his put-to-rights collection. “We need a favor from you.”

“Favor? What favor?”

Lian Song tilted his head at his grandnephew and A-Li gingerly crossed over, cupping his hands in front of him to perform a polite bow, before presenting his supplication.

“Si Ming Xingjun[10], we would like to see the Destiny Ledger of a mortal friend of ours.”

One eyebrow raised on the kindly Star Lord’s face.

“She’s been missing for two immortal days now.” Lian Song said impatiently, fanning himself faster. “We need to know where she is. Urgently.”

“How can you lose her if she is your friend?” Si Ming mumbled, moving closer to the shelves. He pulled a piece of parchment and an inked quill from thin-air and gave it to A-Li. “What’s her name and which city is she from? If you know her birthdate, that will help as well. Our mortals have been too productive in recent years. I can hardly keep up with their sheer numbers.”

A-Li took the quill and wrote down Xue Jiaolong’s name. The process was enervating as putting the strokes on parchment reminded A-Li of the time she taught him how to write her real name.


薛… So are you from Qílǔ ? He asked as he peered over her shoulder, enchanted by her soft fragrance. I know a lot of Xue’s from Qílǔ.

She turned her head, the gold pendants and bells of her coronet tinkled daintily and purposely. Indeed, she attracted attention every time she moved. Their faces were so close that their noses almost touched. A-Li moved his face a little bit closer but she returned her attention to the paper on the floor.

Xi’an in Shǎnxī before we fled to Luoyang. Her voice felt like the softest silk that ever whispered against A-Li’s skin. You must not tell anyone. The warden of Xi’an’s debtor’s prison is still-hunting down my father.

Her hand moved with the naked elegance of fire as she transcribed her first name’s two characters.

嬌龍… So many strokes in one’s name. He complained as he saw the finished characters but otherwise impressed at how beautiful her handwriting was. I’m not sure if your father meant to give you a hard time or he was just showing off.

I told you, my father was a scholar before mother died and after, he became a drunkard. He taught one of the Imperial Princes even. How come yours was so uncreative?

My mother had… issues. He replied, controlling the urge to laugh. And when she had the opportunity to rename me, she wanted to call me Black Son.

She turned again, and this time their noses bumped. However, this time, she didn’t pull away.

I think that’s a creative name, she whispered, her eyes half-lidded, her fragrant breath warm against his lips. It suits you, you honey-tongued rascal.

Now, you’re saying that just to spite me. A-Li’s face tightened, drawing his brows closer. Knowing she didn’t deserve the reaction, he tried to soften it by raising his right hand to cup her cheek. It pleased him that she leaned into his touch. When I first found out, I fled from home and hid at my Lǎoye[11]’s house for days.

She put down the brush and pivoted her upper body so they sat with their torsos facing each other. Her head pulled back, eyes skimming his face.

Do you know what I remember about you from the first night we met? Your eyes. Black, dark as the night sky. Piercing. Intimidating. I can’t explain exactly but something about them scared me. Then you called out my name. Her fingers traced his lower lip and A-Li’s breathing slowed. And then you smiled. I didn’t know stars could shine in a person’s eyes.

Even then? He growled, pleasantly surprised at her confession. But you made me chase after you for two years. If the earth didn’t shake

Even then. I knew it was going to be love. That’s why I kept my distance.


“Xue Jiaolong who lives in Luoyang,” Si Ming’s pinned hair almost bumped on A-Li’s nose, snapping him back to the present. “She isn’t a Jìnǚ[12] who works at the Pe Kang Li by any chance?”

Lian Song’s fan snapped closed. “You know her?”

“Of course I know her!” Like a man on a mission, Si Ming pulled the movable stairs over a shelf to A-Li’s right. “When she was born, the stars were perfectly aligned and she was given a beautiful name, too. I thought with these two auspicious signs, she deserved to have the kind of fate that poems are made of. Hence, I wrote her a fate befitting that of a queen…” Si Ming snickered, “literally.”

Whatever Si Ming was saying didn’t make sense to A-Li but his body still tensed and he watched with bated breath as Si Ming climbed the stairs three shelves up and pulled a Destiny Ledger more than half his size.

“It’s one of my personal bests. As you can see from the size of this jiǎndú, I put a lot of effort into this creation. A young girl was born to a gifted scholar and his beautiful wife. A few years later, when she was twelve, her mother died and her father drank himself to utter ruin, forcing her to enter a Jiaofang[13]. Many years later, she becomes the star attraction of the famed brothel, Pe Kang Li. A Talented Courtesan, she eventually enters the Palace to become a Concubine and gains the Emperor’s favor so much she rises up to the rank of an Empress — after the previous Empress falls out of favor and is escorted out of the Palace. She gives birth to a Son who later is ordained Crown Prince. It sounds almost too easy, doesn’t it?” Si Ming chuckled as he carefully climbed down. “I, however, wrote so much drama in. Life in the Palace can be more vicious and entertaining than that on the outside.”

She entered the Palace? A-Li’s fists clenched at his sides. He knew the Emperor took a special liking to her for years but the old fart never appealed to her. Could it be the Emperor’s men who abducted her that night?

A-Li and Lian Song followed a visibly pleased Si Ming to the nearest table so he could unfurl the Destiny Ledger. Actually, A-Li thought he could make do with not seeing what’s written on it now that he knew where she went. But his granduncle must have sensed his desperation, and so Lian Song exhibited one of his rare displays of wisdom by holding on to Ali’s arm.

Of course, rushing off in a hurry will attract special attention. It is a truth well-known that Si Ming is the largest gossipmonger in all Four Seas and Eight Deserts. The Mobile Bagua Manual[14] is a title he carries with much pride and some Celestials actually fear him for it.

A-Li caught his anxiety and shielded it behind a nonchalant look that would have made his Heavenly Emperor Father proud. He approached to Si Ming’s right, ready to read.

With great flourish, Si Ming cast a golden light to cut the threads sealing the Jiǎndú closed then waved his hand to unfurl his huge Destiny Ledger for Xue Jiaolong.

A-Li blinked, moving closer, hardly believing his eyes.

It was empty.

Bare as any creature was on the day they were born.

Chapter 2



1. (妓院) a brothel

2. (神君) Divine Lord, as used to address Lian Song in Pillow Book 1

3. (叔叔) An informal address for father’s younger brother. By tradition, A-Li should formally address Lian Song as shū zǔfù(叔祖父, paternal younger great uncle) but Lian Song is your standard cool uncle and prefer not to reveal his real age especially around the people he and his grandnephew meet outside of the Celestial Realm.

4. (侄子) Honorific for brother’s son or grandnephew. By tradition, Lian Song should call A-Li as his grandnephew (侄孙), but he doesn’t like to betray his age.

5. (曾祖父) Paternal Great Grandfather

6. (元君) A title used on Cheng Yu in Pillow Book 2.

7. (天君) Celestial Lord

8. Author-crafted title to refer to the Original Gods or Founding Gods, the Gods who came to power after Pangu (Creator of the Heavens and Earth) died.

9. (简牍 ) Wooden slip book, usually made of bamboo

10. (星君) Star Lord, as used to address Si Ming in Pillow Book 1

11. (老爺) Maternal Grandfather

12. (妓女) Prostitute; Courtesan

13. A high-end finishing school for prostitutes where girls train in music, dancing, literature, calligraphy, chess, literary drinking games, etc.

14. (八卦) a slang for gossip-mongers.