Fanfiction3: A-Li's Three Lives, Three Worlds - Chapter 3 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 3

written by LigayaCroft
edited by kakashi & panda

Six immortal days ago…

It was an unfortunate coincidence but for one who placed so much care in his good looks, Gun Gun’s face always ended up getting battered during fights— almost as if fists and weapons had lodestones and his face was South [1]. It came as no surprise then that he requested the group to make a stop at Zhe Yan’s Peach Grove before heading back to Jiuchongtian.

“I can’t find any of the stronger stuff.” Cheng Yu announced as she brought out six aventurine wine pots from Zhe Yan’s wine cellar. “I wonder if the Old Phoenix already took them all out.”

“Gun Gun, don’t move too much if you want Shūshu to properly heal that cut on your nose.” A-Li shouted to his nephew as he held out his hand to receive a bottle from Cheng Yu. In between sips, he told her, “Why he’s even concerned about cuts and bruises, I’ll never understand. Scars bring out more character.”

“Who knew Dong Hua Dijun would raise such a vain kid?” whispered Cheng Yu after shooting an exasperated glance at Gun Gun. “Ah, but like his father, he’s beautiful. Not that you are any worse, of course” she corrected, taking out her ledger again. “You got your father’s mysterious eyes, and your Mother and Fourth Uncle’s foxy good looks. This month alone you had eighteen women your Uncle’s age come on to you. We placed bets on how many of them used to express interest in your Fourth Uncle but Bi Fang [2] had been hard to find so we couldn’t confirm yet. I’ve a theory that these women were hoping you inherited your father’s predisposition for much older women…”

A-Li allowed Cheng Yu to chatter on, while he took another sip of his peach wine, his gaze on the trees that flanked the other side of the Jade Pool. Hadn’t it been about 10’000 years ago that Zhe Yan aimed to show his deeper commitment to A-Li’s Fourth Uncle by staying more often at Bai Zhen’s Mansion in West Qing Qiu? Still, miles and miles of blooming peach trees perpetually littered the ground with their light pink and light purple blooms, even though their owner was hardly around anymore.

“I’ve had it with demon fights.” Lian Song declared, finally finished with his task of fixing Gun Gun’s face. “Let’s go to my favorite Jìyuàn in Luoyang.”

This was new information to A-Li’s ears. “If it is your favorite, how come you haven’t taken me there yet?”

“Ah,” Lian Song took a bottle from his wife. “That’s because I was saving the best for last. Right, wife?”

Cheng Yu’s face brightened. “Wang Ling?”

“Wang Ling.” To A-Li, he explained, “The most intelligent and beautiful courtesan the mortal world has ever seen.”

A-Li chuckled at husband and wife’s enraptured faces.

“Whatever.” A-Li decided, standing up again. “We can go after we stop by Jiuchongtian.”

“Aren’t you going to treat that injury on your back first?”

A-Li stood up, shaking his head at Cheng Yu. “This is exactly why Mother will be coming for me. Gun Gun, if you stare any longer at the Jade Pool, you will keel over. Let’s go.”


“Ow.. Ow.. Ow…”

“Oh, my poor Riceball. Oh!” Heavenly Empress Bai Qian incessantly paced in front of A-Li, wringing her hands, as her son got treatment in his bedroom at Ziqing Palace. “This is your fault, Lian Song. I told you to stop bringing my son to Demon Realm taverns!”

“Does it really hurt that much?” Cheng Yu whispered as she sat beside A-Li, her face crumpled with worry, while the Medicine King treated him.

A-Li glanced at his mother who was still sharply exchanging words with his Granduncle. He slyly shook his head at Cheng You before he groaned another fake “Ow…”

Bai Qian was right beside A-Li in an instant. She tried to soothe A-Li by running her soft hands along her son’s bare left arm.

“Why are you blaming your bad parenting on me? If you didn’t allow Ye Hua to monopolize your time, things might have turned out better for A-Li here.”

“Qing Qiu parents believe in free-range parenting.” Bai Qian bit back defensively, although a slight blush crept up to her cheeks. “Look at Riceball. His world is wider than his own Father has been. He’s even more emotionally-mature than Ye Hua was at his age.”

“You just contradicted yourself because that’s all thanks to me. So why blame me every time A-Li has scrapes and cuts?” Lian Song pointed out, lazily fanning himself.

“Because when I was his age, I didn’t get hit by demon weapons. Zhe Yan and Fourth Brother took good care of me!”

The fan shut closed. A-Li bit his lower lip, trying hard not to laugh. Things had just turned into a full-blown war… yet again.

Bai Qian initially agreed when Lian Song asked to supervise his grandnephew’s education after A-Li turned 13’000 years old, as she naively thought Lian Song could have the same effect that Zhe Yan had on her. However, her expectations ended up far behind from reality. Their relationship went on a downward spiral quickly enough.

“Are you saying I haven’t done my best to protect A-Li? Is the pot calling the kettle black now?”

“Maybe we should go to the mortal realm now?” Cheng Yu whispered again as the room sizzled with tense energy from the two High Gods.

“If I was that bad, how come A-Li ascended to High Immortal at 30’000 years?” Bai Qian asked. She wasn’t even aware that her nails now dug into A-Li’s skin. She was like a fierce mother fox. Everything about her bristled like she was ready to pounce. “Clearly, the ‘unorthodox education’ you Celestials always gripe about worked on him!”

A-Li and Cheng Yu exchanged worried looks because they both knew what was coming next.

“He ascended at 30’000 because with all due respect, Heavenly Empress…” Lian Song stepped closer, hitting the side of his fan on his other palm. “…we both know taking half of his traits from you dragged down his chances at ascending any earlier. Don’t you see? Ye Hua ascended at 20’000 and you cheated, er, ascended at 40’000. Evidently, A-Li is yours and Ye Hua’s happy middle. Hopefully, my other grandnieces and grandnephews take after their father because if not—” Lian Song ended his tirade with an uncharacteristically inelegant shudder.

Bai Qian shrank back, obviously hurt. A-Li hand-signaled to his Granduncle to stop it and was about to tell his Mother that they were leaving when his Heavenly Emperor Father came in with his youngest brother and sister.

The Heavens rejoiced at the birth of the clan’s second long feng bao [3] in known history, and the twins carried the honor with pride. Yizheng and Chenwei were only 500 years old but they were precocious in a way that A-Li had never been. Lian Song always thanked the stars that only the twins’ looks took after their mother.

“Dàgē!” The twins squealed in unison upon sighting A-Li. A-Li barely got his fresh robe on when the two launched on each of his leg, and dragged him to sit down again so they could immediately start a contest on who could kiss him the most.

Last month, Yizheng won.

Meanwhile, Medicine King surreptitiously left after bowing to Ye Hua.

“Third Uncle, Qian Qian, it's not good for the children to overhear you airing your differences so loudly.” Ye Hua calmly noted, patting the top of A-Li’s head like he’d always done. “Why can't you take after A-Li and always be the first to apologize? A little bit of humility never hurts.”

Cheng Yu beamed. She had always taught A-Li the virtue of humility. In light of Bai Qian’s attack on A-Li’s tutelage, a little bit of praise helped set her feelings to rights.

“Are you joining us for lunch, A-Li?” Ye Hua asked when he wasn't able to get any reaction from neither his uncle nor his wife.

“Unfortunately not, Father. We already have plans to go down to the mortal realm.”

“But you just got here!” Chenwei complained, the back of her feet hitting A-Li’s calf muscle.

Yizheng was calmer than his sister but his face was scrunched up pitifully. “I don't want you to go.”

A-Li dropped a kiss on each twin’s cheeks. “I won't be gone for long. Dàgē is just going to see Shūshu and Cheng Yu’s friend. I will be back before you know it.”

“But I don't want you to go!” Yizheng wailed so loud, A-Li thought his ear popped.

“Shhh, A-Yi, you don't have to say it that loudly.”

“But I only know how to say it out loud!” Yizheng shouted again. Then his mouth snapped shut really fast and his face went back to looking pitiful.

“How long will he be my brother?” Chenwei asked, rolling her eyes at Yizheng.

“Forever, Xiao Gui [4].”

Chenwei sighed so heavily, the adults in the room laughed.

“Chenwei, I thought you were going to be good to your brother today?” Ye Hua asked evenly although his eyes were sparkling.

“I’m taking a break.” Chenwei hit A-Li’s calf again with the back of her foot, drawing his attention. “Why can’t you take me with you?”

“You’re not yet tall enough.” A-Li replied. “You two need to eat your vegetables.”

“I can’t.” Yizheng said unapologetically. “They’re not food.”

Chenwei cupped A-Li’s face to draw his attention once again. “I eat more vegetables than A-Yi does. So, why don’t we leave him behind and you take me with you?”

“Why don’t you try growing taller than me first?” Yizheng interjected, and a foot flew to kick Chenwei’s shin.

A-Li looked to his parents for help as the twins started kicking and poking at each other.

Ye Hua tried to break the children up, picking up Chenwei in his left arm then Yizheng in his right. “I’ll have Nai Nai give the children a bath.”

A-Li stood up, same as Cheng Yu, and they both bowed to his Father as Ye Hua walked away.

As soon as the doors closed behind Ye Hua, Bai Qian approached A-Li for an embrace which A-Li received happily.

“I will miss you again, Riceball. Why are you always in a hurry to leave?”

A-Li patted his mother’s back before detaching. Bai Qian helped put his robes to rights.

“Mother,” He held his Mother by the shoulders and leaned close so only she could hear. “No matter what Shūshu says, I am glad you’re my mother. You love me best.”

Bai Qian eyes swelled with tears so easily it embarrassed A-Li. She had a strong personality but years of crossing words with Lian Song about her ineptitude as a mother had made her vulnerable to Lian Song’s mere presence. A-Li had learned to give her as many soft words as he could afford to give.

Patting his Mother’s shoulders one last time, A-Li turned to leave. Cheng Yu and Lian Song were already a few steps ahead.

“Wait,” Bai Qian called out from behind them. “Where are you going?”

A-Li sighed. Bai Qian had inadvertently created another opening.

Lian Song gleefully turned to answer, “To a Jìyuàn, where else?”

A-Li no longer turned. There was no need to as he could already imagine the eye-daggers his Mother had sent Lian Song’s way.

Their trio was just about to step out of the Ziqing Palace gates when they unexpectedly ran into Ye Hua, this time without the twins.

“A-Li, a word.”

Lian Song and Cheng Yu shared guilty looks and motioned for him to go.

A-Li wordlessly fell into step with his Father as they walked toward the palace gazebo. Prior to his Father’s ascension as Heavenly Emperor, the gazebo was where A-Li had spent much time learning philosophy at his Father’s feet before setting off to see the world with Lian Song. Today, Ye Hua probably chose the place for its relevance, too.

“I want you to know that I received the reports on what happened at the Purple Demon Clan’s—“

“Father, let me explain. We were minding our own business when a demon put his hands on Cheng Yu—“

Ye Hua raised his hand, which instantly caused A-Li’s lips to draw in a straight line.

“I don’t need to know what you were doing there and what the circumstances were surrounding the fight you got into. But I want to remind you that there are things at stake here.” Ye Hua’s eyes bored through A-Li, soft yet unyielding. “Remember, there are Celestials who oppose our rule, and it is our duty to prove that we are worthy to lead.”

A slash of guilt sliced through A-Li, and his head dropped in shame.

“I’m sorry, Father.“

“I know you are.” Ye Hua placed his hands on A-Li’s shoulders. “Be careful, and take care of your granduncle at the Mortal Realm. I know he can be a handful at times.”

Ye Hua said the last statement with a small smile, effectively decreasing the load in A-Li’s heart.

As A-Li walked to the Western Gates to meet with his companions, he passed through several High Immortals who were trying, but failing, to surreptitiously stare at the Heavenly Emperor as he quietly watched his eldest son walk away.

The usual mixture of judgement and pity for the Heavenly Emperor, from the High Immortals he had just passed, didn’t fail to meet A-Li’s notice. To this day, nobody could fathom Ye Hua’s insistence to make A-Li the Crown Prince, despite threats of rebellion from fellow Celestials. Even A-Li couldn’t comprehend it himself. He had several siblings, all pure fairy-born, to choose from and yet, Ye Hua still adamantly insisted on putting A-Li next in line to the throne.

It was not as if A-Li had asked for it. And if people were not happy about it, then what could he do?

A-Li sighed as he joined Lian Song, Cheng Yu and Gun Gun at the Western Gate.

“Ready?” Lian Song asked, jumping on a cloud with an arm wrapped around his wife.

A-Li nodded. At least until some of the outrage from their latest brawl died down, it was fortunate that they were to spend some time looking for distractions in the Mortal Realm.

Chapter 4


1. The compass (initially made of lodestones) was invented in China during the Han Dynasty between the 2nd century BC and 1st century AD, where it was called the “south-governor”. The Chinese compasses pointed towards the stronger magnetic pole [which happens to be located in the Southern hemisphere].

2. Fourth Uncle Bai Zhen’s steed

3. Dragon-Phoenix twins— a set of a baby boy and a baby girl which is seen as a great blessing to the family.

4. Little Devil