Fanfiction3: A-Li's Three Lives, Three Worlds - Chapter 9 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 9

written by LigayaCroft
edited by kakashi & panda

Xue Jiaolong was gone from his side when A-Li woke the following morning.

He found her in the kitchen helping out the people assigned to make today’s breakfast. After greeting her a “Good Morning” accompanied with a playful wink that once again visibly flustered her, A-Li collected his meal portion and poured himself a cup of warm tea. He then sat down and observed as he ate how truly happy she looked as she interacted with the inhabitants of her House.

Gone was the miserable woman who cried about her ungrateful wards. Last night’s episode had exposed her frailties, but in its purest form, her altruistic nature was also the source of her real strength. The woman in front of him today who served food to the elderly with a heartfelt smile buzzed with the energy only obtained from having a worthwhile purpose in life.

It amazed A-Li how her life had been written to contain a heart big enough to forgive and overcome the shortsightedness of her kind, strong enough to make the hard choices, and graceful enough to grow beautiful even though planted in a barren place.

It was enough to make A-Li feel ashamed of how he had lived the last 27’000 years of his life, seeking pleasure and purpose, yet finding none. In comparison, she had only been around for 27 years— 27 immortal days, a short time for him with his record of having slept for half of that after two and a half immortal weeks of drunken revelry— but she had lived through it with more purpose than his whole 40’000 years had ever done.

Indeed Si Ming did a great job when he wrote Xue Jiaolong’s Destiny Ledger, A-Li thought. He should invite the Star Lord for a drink once he was back in Jiuchongtian.

Moving his gaze from Xue Jiaolong to the older people in the mess hall, A-Li was once again reminded of their audacity and this grated at him. They reminded him of the Celestials his family worked hard to serve and protect and yet they still bickered about his Father’s tiny failings, as if the Heavenly Emperor owed them anything.

In this regard, Celestials and these mortals were very much alike. Self-serving. Shameless. Ungrateful. For instance, all the grown-ups in the mess hall had been fed but A-Li was yet to hear a word of thanks from any of them. Instead, what he heard were complaints— like, how the millet was of poorer quality than what they were used to, how come the women were getting equal share of the meat and vegetables as men, and grumblings asking when they were having fish again.

A hand held his shoulder. A-Li looked up and saw Xue Yuan smiling down on him. He tried to stand up to greet the old man but the hand remained firm on his shoulder, holding him down.

“A-Li, thank you for yesterday.”

He shook his head. “Think nothing of it, Xue Lǎoshī. How are you feeling this morning?”

“Better.” The old man placed his teacup down beside A-Li’s tray, his eyes on his daughter. “I don't deserve to be the father of that young woman over there. All I’ve done is give her trouble.”

For a man who had always lamented about how unworthy he was of his daughter, Xue Yuan had never really stopped finding ways to give his daughter more embarrassment. Telling the truth might offend Xue Jiaolong though. Hence, A-Li opted to offer an advice rather than a reprimand.

“You have to stop drinking, Xue Lǎoshī. You made her worry for you yesterday.”

The old man’s chin dipped down, his chest caved in. “I can't face my wife just yet. Will you go with her when she pays her respects to her mother later today?”

A-Li gritted his teeth as he felt something bitter rise from his stomach. The way the old man treated his daughter had been so downright absurd that finally, A-Li couldn’t hold back.

The dragon in his spirit broke free and demanded to be heard. Right or wrong, as a prince, A-Li could be blunt and was privileged to speak his mind. Why should he be any different when it came to dealing with these mortals?

“With all due respect, Xue Lǎoshī, you need to come to terms with your daughter’s profession because unless you have a better solution, you have no say on what she does. Instead of bemoaning your daughter’s fate, why don’t you find work yourself?”

“A-Li!” A-Li turned his head and saw Xue Jiaolong with an unreadable expression on her face. “If you’re done eating, it’s time to go.”

Oh, he was done— done with all the duplicity of the people in this House who had been fortunate enough to find a kind benefactress to leech off from. A-Li wouldn’t even put it past them to talk behind Xue Jiaolong’s back or else why did Xue Yuan always feel guilty?

He stood up and looked around at the older people in the mess hall. “You lot should be protecting your mistress, instead of gossiping about her or putting her down in front of her father.” And with all the seniority his 40’000 immortal years could muster — not that they needed to know — he finished with, “I am so disappointed with all of you, especially those of you who stood by and did nothing.”

A-Li held everyone’s discomfited gazes under his glower for a couple more breaths before he turned.

Xue Jiaolong was gone.

He rushed out of the kitchen and the front door, and spotted her as she fled toward the dirt path that lead travelers to the east exit of the town.

“Jia’er!” He called but she didn’t turn. Now what was she mad about?, he wondered, noting her fisted hands and the savagery in her gait. “Jia’er!”

She pivoted and stalked toward him so fast that A-Li had to stop his jog.

“I didn’t need you to defend me to those people. And my Father! Who gave you the right?”

A-Li was at a loss for words. He had never encountered a woman who didn’t like it when he stood up for her, especially since he was in the right.

But just as suddenly, the storm she brought with her lost its wind. Her shoulders deflated and she leaned an open palm against his chest for support. The palm closed, and rumpled the cross-collar of his garment in her fist, which she pounded against his chest.

“I don’t need you to save me so promise you won’t do that again. You can go ahead and apologize now.”

The total change of pace confused A-Li. “Weren’t we about to start a fight?”

“We will, if you don’t apologize while I’m still feeling benevolent.” She murmured, lifting her head up so they could look at each other. Her eyes meant business, like she was counting down in her mind.

“I don’t regret speaking like that to the elders. They deserved it.”

Her eyebrows furrowed, and for a second A-Li thought she considered how to best finish him off.

“I’ll do it again in a heartbeat if that’s what gets them to accord you the respect you deserve.”

Her hand re-fisted, gathering more fabric in its grip, thus pulling him closer.

A-Li’s hand raised to cup her nape through her unbound hair. She didn’t resist the touch but she still hissed, “Apologize now,” through clenched teeth.

He put on his best puppy eyes, the kind that women of all immortal races couldn’t resist. “I’m sorry if I put you in a tight spot, Jia’er.” He gathered her hand under his and pressed it over his heart. “Truly.”

She looked from her hand to his face several times. “I don’t need a hero.” She stressed, and finally let his clothing go. “You always need to remember that.”

“Alright.” A-Li nodded but he also gave her a caveat of his own. “But you also need to remember that I don’t like to be told what I can and cannot do.”

Xue Jiaolong met his direct stare with equal ferocity. It was apparent his warning didn’t please her but she was the first one to give up with a careless shrug after a couple of breaths.

“Alright. I respect that you are strong-willed, too. At least it’s sincere and not just misplaced male bravado.” She slid her head out of his hand and resumed walking. “Since neither of us will bend due to our innate natures, we should make another promise. When called out for being wrong, we will apologize as necessary.” She paused to turn her head so A-Li could see that she had raised her eyebrows at him. What was she talking about? Apologizing, right. A-Li nodded his acceptance. A satisfied smirk drew on her face and she clucked her tongue. “Do you want to come with me to the temple or do you need to head home?”

For the first time since he had winked at her this morning, A-Li smiled. He lengthened his strides until he kept the same pace as hers. It astonished him how this woman always walked fast ahead of him, and did not even turn to check if he followed.

This behavior was a far throw from the rest of her gender who followed the cultural custom of walking a few paces behind men.

Just then, another scary thought entered A-Li’s mind.

She was exactly his type.


A-Li impatiently waited under the shade of a gingko tree for Xue Jiaolong to return. She was up the hill where the temple priests and nuns lived, and she talked to a priest who gave her the joss sticks she now held in her hand.

He had felt it the moment they entered the temple gates — a divine energy that was both oddly welcome and unwelcome. The temple had wards to keep certain beings out, that was for sure, but it didn’t bother A-Li because he had the latent ability to dispel magick with a wave of his left hand.

He had been pretty young when he discovered the skill and found most spells didn’t work against him except for those casted by High Gods. Over the years, his skill had made for fascinating entertainment as he used it mostly for mischief.

Right now, he wanted to listen in on their conversation as it looked intense. The priest looked like he was threatening Xue Jiaolong, who had shrank back. When his “mortal” ears failed to work for eavesdropping, A-Li waved his left hand. Almost immediately, the expected sour taste crept up his tongue but what A-Li hadn’t anticipated was the several dàn [1] of intense pressure that had him turn his back on the hill so he could catch his breath as he leaned against the trunk of the nearest tree.

This place was hiding something, and for the next few breaths, A-Li challenged himself to find out what. However, as he resisted against the pressure, which caused the heels of his boots to dig deeply into the soft earth, it pressed upon his head so hard he felt like it was going to explode. A-Li eventually retreated and released his assault.

Relief like cold, soothing spring water washed over him afterwards as protective magick began healing what had been internally damaged by his offensive against this place. His immortal eyes struggled to see where the wards were and what they looked like, but he came up empty-handed. Strange. He hadn’t been aware such a holy place existed so close to Jiāngyuán and he made a mental note to get somebody from the Celestial Research Authority to visit the place.

He set himself back to rights, wiping the blood off his mouth against the underside of his black sleeve and straightened up. Xue Jiaolong and the priest were still talking, and for some reason, he was proud she now had a more aggressive stance as she spoke. Then, she turned on her feet and began her descent downhill.

So for now, he waited.


From what he understood from Xue Jiaolong, this temple was not the original Xue family temple. However, since they had moved to Luoyang, Xue Jiaolong and Xue Yuan had paid the priests to move Xue Mei’s wooden spirit tablet to this place so their family matriarch was always in close proximity.

The temple made for a pretty sight though. Gingko trees flanked the road leading to the worship hall. Come autumn, the trees would show off their yellow foliage, and the temple grounds would look like they were covered with gold.

However, the beautiful colors of autumn would pale in comparison to the woman in rose-dyed hemp clothing who bounded down the steps toward him.

“I love this temple.” She remarked, stopping a few steps above him. “It has all of my favorite flowers and trees. See that bower above? The priest I was talking to made it a couple of years ago so the wisteria trees around it can show off during late spring. And look at these hydrangeas blooming by the the side of the stairs— aren't they beautiful?”

A-Li was too distracted with the fullness of life that was shown on Xue Jiaolong’s face to pay the slightest attention to wherever she was pointing at. Her cheeks were flushed red and her now-braided hair had tendrils floating in wisps framing her face. She looked young, much younger than her twenty-seven years.

“I suppose.”

She scowled but her eyes held a naughty sparkle as she wagged a finger at him. “You should pay more attention to things around you. Just because you've been around long enough doesn't mean you should take these things for granted. Look, the sky’s so clear and blue today. Did you even look up since you woke up this morning? You should. That way you'll know whether to dress up for rain or not.”

Having lived tens of thousands of her lifetime had merged present and past so interchangeably that one sunrise for A-Li had become as good as the next sunset or the millions of sunsets that have taken place before it. But to pay notice to his surroundings had become a bigger problem whenever she was around. How could he when in his eyes she shone brighter than a thousand suns?

“Do you pray?” she asked as soon as she reached his side. Her lips held a smile but her upturned eyes had a glint in them, as if she held a secret only she knew.

“To whom?”

“The Gods.”

A-Li shook his head, trying hard not to laugh, as he found the question completely inapplicable.

“So you don't believe in Gods?”

“I do.”

“But you don't pray to them?”

“There is no need to.”


A-Li followed her through the cleansing rituals, then watched from a few feet behind her as she lit her three joss sticks, using fire from the urn at the entrance of the temple, before bringing them inside. Holding the incense in her fisted hands, left over right, she bowed thrice before placing each stick upright more or less a cun [2] apart from each other in the golden incense burner using her left hand.

She went back to kneeling before her mother’s wooden spirit tablet and kowtowed several times, her lips moving silently in supplication.

A-Li felt moved. He had never been to the insides of a temple nor had he seen a mortal worshipper pray so fervently before. As the son of two high gods, and as someone related to several more high gods, he knew how important mortals’ prayers were in ensuring their relevance— for what good were gods without worshippers?

However, he never paid much attention to how humbling the act must be for mortals— again, one of those things he only took for granted because it had been there even before he was born.

Soon, Xue Jiaolong was done, respectfully exiting the temple with her hands cupped in front of her and walking backwards with her head slightly bowed.

“What did you just do?” He asked as soon as she turned her back on the worship hall.

Her nose wrinkled. Even in such a holy place, A-Li suddenly had unholy thoughts driven by how playfully attractive she looked doing that.

“I was communicating with my Mother, and asked her to guide me to always do the right thing. I also apologized for not taking better care of Father. I promised her on her deathbed that I would, and it has become harder and harder to keep.”

It was an interesting ritual, this talking to dead relatives, A-Li pondered.


“Why what?”

He fell into step beside her as they climbed down the stairs leading back to the temple gates.

“Why do you have to do that?”

“Pray?” Xue Jiaolong looked taken aback and was deep in thought for a moment before she simply replied, “It helps me.”

Now, A-Li was truly curious. His eyebrows also involuntarily raised as he asked, again. “Helps you? How?”

“I don't feel as alone. Talking to Mother feels like somebody else is listening.”

“But is she?”

“I believe so. So, yes.”

A-Li pondered for a moment. Since he had an insider’s view of the heavens, he knew for a fact that things didn’t work that way.

“What if she doesn't hear you?”

“It doesn't matter. What matters is what happens to me here.” She pressed her right hand over her chest. “It calms me. It makes me feel like she never left. You’ve never really prayed to your ancestors before?”

A-Li had to chuckle at that thought. “No.”

She was quiet until they crossed the temple gates and rejoined the forest path leading to Luoyang. Once again, she walked over the grass and twigs instead of the dirt road.


“Yes, Jia’er?”

“If I die before you do, will you pray to me?”

It was an absurd request to A-Li’s ears. The muscles on his back also inwardly tightened, making his head swiftly draw back so he could stare at her.

“I’m not requiring you to.” She said gently, her cheeks flushed with the color of her embarrassment. “I just think Death shall feel a little less lonely when somebody talks to you. ”

“Will you hear me if I do?” He asked, just to accommodate her.

She bit her lower lip for a moment as they walked, mulling over her response. “I don’t know,” she finally said, shrugging. “But you know me. I'll find a way. I always do.”

Lian Song’s words played A-Li’s his mind yet again. A vision of her sleeping face in the dark flashed before his eyes but this time her cheeks were flat white, her lips tinged grayish-blue.

A-Li’s pulse raced so fast as he tried to fight the vision’s source.

Xue Jiaolong, dead.

Where did that image even come from?

A soft warm hand grasped his left wrist while another cupped the right side of his face. “A-Li, look at me,” A-Li heard her whisper, her fingers drumming a gentle rhythm against his cheekbone. “Are you alright?”

He still felt dizzy. His sight danced with baffling black spots, but he forced himself to focus on Xue Jiaolong’s face. It was engraved with worry. Had he put that there?

Then A-Li realized, she was here.

In front of him.



She cared.

Once again, she came to him.

A-Li cupped her face in his hands. Driven by the sudden fear and desperation that clutched at his chest, he leaned in to capture her lips as if they were his honeyed salvation. She offered no resistance, allowing him to drink his fill at first before her own hunger overtook her and A-Li was the one left almost gasping for air.

For the first time in his immortal life, A-Li felt totally out-of-depth. Impossible. He had kissed hundreds—no, thousands— of women. He had them in every physically possible way. There had been too many so that after some time, body parts became just that… body parts. He had become desensitized. Thus, during the past couple of thousand years, A-Li had simply gone through the motions of coupling and tried to find spiritual fulfillment from the act instead. A hedonist who practiced his Taoism in the bedroom? Thankfully, his reputation had preceded him so that talking about it did more harm than good for his tattletale lovers.

But this kiss… This woman… When his Primordial ancestors had created mortals, they must have used someone like Xue Jiaolong to model the quintessential mortal woman from.

Because she embodied every key trait.





As if she were a spread to rival any feast hosted in the Thirty-Six Heavens, A-Li’s mouth hungrily moved to kiss her cheeks, her jaw line, then way up to nip and nibble at her tiny left ear. She made small sounds from the back of her throat, spurring him on as he licked the sweat that had trickled and dried down the graceful line of her throat.

He drowned in her skin’s natural fragrance. It had taken a while since her scent had previously always been disguised with powders and oils but now A-Li finally knew what she truly smelled like— like freshly-bloomed water lilies, similar to the ones which grew unattended alongside lotuses in the Ninth Sky’s Jade Pool from Xiwu Palace all the way to Zhu Xian Terrace.

His hands finally got to fulfill what they had wanted to do all night last night. They went over her face, her neck, pulled at her hair, skimmed all over the delicate stretch of her spine and her back, memorizing its lines and curves, until with a growl of discontent he moved his hands up front to cup and palm the softness of her generous breasts. He groaned when he confirmed they were as he had imagined them to be for the past two years, perfectly-fit to be cupped by his hands, her nipples hard as small pearls under his fingers.

Xue Jiaolong was just as shameless. In between throaty sighs and whispers of his name, her hands roamed over his forearms, his biceps, then her palms and fingernails scored all over up and down his back. A-Li wasn’t even conscious that she had been pushing him all along until his spine met the rough resistance of a tree trunk making his eyes fly open to look at her face. With a mischievous flash in her eyes, she cupped and placed delicious pressure on his buttocks, effectively pulling his lower body towards her so his hardness pressed against her softness. In the worst act of torture possible, she rubbed against him as she moved to reclaim his lips.

Twenty-nine mortal months all culminated to this. He hadn’t even sunk into her wet heat yet and A-Li already felt like dust flying and flames dying.

I’ll have her. Now. As they kissed, A-Li’s eyes tried to look for where he could finally claim her. On the ground? Against that tree trunk? What about that tree stump? He could sit and she could ride…

“It’s raining.”

A-Li’s muddled thoughts didn’t register her words as effectively as the loss of her mouth on his did.


She was looking up to the sky and so A-Li followed suit.

His face met with the harsh onslaught of a torrid downpour, as if somebody poured a giant pail of water over their part of the earth.

There was only one being who could distract a Rain Goddess enough to cause something like this happen.

“Gun Gun…” A-Li said through gritted teeth as he and Xue Jiaolong ran hand-in-hand to look for shelter. His body’s throbbing ache died as blood flowed elsewhere from exertion. In truth, he wanted to cry. Or, kill a white-haired interloper and an Old Dragon who happened to be the Water God of the Four Seas.

The second option was more preferable and would give him a higher degree of satisfaction for completion.

“Bai Gun Gun?” Xue Jiaolong asked. “What does he have to do with this?”

Everything. Probably at his granduncle’s orders too.

A-Li offered Xue Jiaolong a soft smile. “I just remembered my pesky relatives. They must be sitting warm around a fire right about now.”

“A fire will be nice.” She sighed dreamily as she ran apace with him. “It’s strange how suddenly cold the temperature has dropped.”

A-Li nodded although he bit his tongue.

Because as only he knew, it was not strange enough.

Chapter 10


1. (担) One unit = 100 catties or 50 kilograms

2. (寸) the width of a person's thumb to the knuckle