Fanfiction3: A-Li's Three Lives, Three Worlds - Chapter 24 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 24

written by LigayaCroft
edited by Panda and kakashi

Twenty-threee immortal days ago…

A-Li, welcome. I have been waiting for you.

The greeting came four immortal days after they left Wuji Island. A-Li felt something shift and tear while meditating so he opened his eyes to look around his room. He was slightly alarmed to find that his surroundings had taken on a hazy appearance, almost like he was looking at them through a curtain of shifting sand which moved with him as he stood up and walked around. The sand particles felt light but weighted, warm yet cool to the touch. To his amazement, he saw the room replay scenes as they had happened in the past four immortal days.

And then she came.

A woman— stunningly beautiful, unknown to A-Li and yet familiar. Her hair carelessly flowed down the full length of her back but it seemed to have its own life as if she carried her own wind with her. Her eyes were as azure as the color of the waters that surrounded Wuji Island and although they looked perpetually sad, they still uncontrollably glowed with the vibrancy of life that flowed within all living creatures.

This is Liánzi, child.

The Veil? The space between yin and yang? A-Li had so many questions but the most important one was, Who are you?, which A-Li asked.

I AM your Shifu. And here begins your lesson: Over this side are the created realms, she stroked her fingers against the Liánzi. The patterns rippled under her hand before she turned to A-Li with an enigmatic, sad smile. And behind you are the worlds of possibilities: Hùndùn.

A-Li turned around and saw darkness that sparkled with many tiny lights, much like how one would see stars in the darkest of dark nights.

All magick comes from Hùndùn, hence all magick can be safely dispersed back into it. Everyone who practices magick draws power from Hùndùn — whether they are aware of it or not— but not everyone knows how to safely harness it. This is how many practitioners rip created worlds apart. In his dragon form, your Dàyé [1] seems to have a penchant for just that, she paused as if to recall something amusing but the mirth touched her eyes so fleetingly before they were overtaken by sadness once again. But I will guide you to harness the power of Hùndùn without tearing through the Liánzi. With it, you can effect change without destroying any of the created worlds. With it, you can also offset most magickal bite back, even ones that you get from canceling others’ magick, She turned to A-Li, that sad smile still on her face. What a fascinating gift you have, don't you think so?

Why? Why do I have to learn all that?, A-Li asked.

Because the world demands balance, A-Li.

You mean to say there’s something evil out there that we all need to prepare for?, he asked as he remembered Lian Song’s warning.

Evil?, This time, her laughter pierced all across the Liánzi, and the scene inside his room danced. What is good? What is evil? During my time, there was no such thing as good nor evil. There were only sides. Everybody was a hero to their own story. Can’t a Celestial be Evil, and a Demon be Good? No, what is before you is merely the high price we all have to pay for a series of unfortunate events which have happened in the past. For wrong choices. For pride. You will understand in time, A-Li. For now, I have to get you ready. Your tribe [2] will need you.

I am a vagabond. I have no tribe.

Oh?, she offered a bemused smile that didn’t change the downcast look in her eyes. A Crown Prince has no tribe?

I am not a Crown Prince.

Ah, but you will be.

Not if I can help it. No.

I guess I’m spoiling the surprise then.

No, you are not. So do tell. I love to defy expectations.

You remind me so much of someone. Alright, since you dared to challenge my prophecy, let me tell you: I have explored so many possibilities and they all point toward the same direction. Like your Father, you will ask for the crown. Do you want to see it? I can show it to you.

Can you show it to me?

Hùndùn is the realm of possibilities. From here, you can see various iterations of the futures of worlds and individuals. At my level, with all the time I could spare, I had nothing else to do but watch everything. But for you, it is a little bit different. Shēng[3]. Always in threes[4]. But you do not want to see it, do you?

A-Li shook his head.

Good. And maybe that’s why Hùndùn chose you. You are wise. You know enough to hold some of your curiosity back.

A-Li let laughter escape his chest. He had never been called wise in his life. The title belonged to his Heavenly Lord Father, not him.

See? Even I had foreseen this. You are more, a lot more than your Father ever will be. All he had was the power of Füxi, and even that has been depleted by now.

And what do I have?

Restraint. And Me. A-Li, you have Me.


She never really answered any of his questions but A-Li was one who always took a win whenever it became available; so, he chose to focus on the fact that he had a guide because he needed one.

Behind him was the shimmering Liánzi, the created worlds beyond it emanating the light that served to distract A-Li from what stood before him. Because in front of him, Hùndùn was an intimidating place. It was vast, without boundaries and without end. It was nothing and everything. It was Chaos and its vicissitudes.

Do not seek to understand everything that you see here, A-Li. Embrace the undifferentiated wholeness. Let go of the limitations the created worlds you have lived in imposed on you. If you seek to quantify Hùndùn, if you want to categorize what you experience here to the limits of your seven senses [5], then you will lose your access to Hùndùn and be restrained to the created worlds.

A-Li easily accepted the admonishment and let his perceptions of the created realms go. And it was not in vain. The more time A-Li spent in Hùndùn, the less strange it felt. As promised, his Shifu taught him how to safely enter in and out without creating destructive ripples on both sides of the Liánzi. Soon, he was able to travel with his Shifu through un-created worlds.

His cousin and nephew complained that he was gone for several immortal days at a time, but they never imposed. And in truth, A-Li was happy to be gone for spells of time too. Time moved differently within Hùndùn and his Shifu was a compelling teacher. They moved from one world of possibilities to the next where A-Li tried tugging and pushing against the Liánzi doing as his Shifu commanded — but never, never, on any of the created worlds.

Why?, he asked one time. Why can’t we go to the created worlds?

Because there will be no way to offset the destruction we might cause should you make a mistake. Not now. Not yet.

Can’t you help me repair any rift, Shifu?

The stories of worlds-creation and repair are the same as the story of how a progeny is made. First, you need two opposing forces of equal measure— a yīn [6] and a yáng [7].

A male and a female?

His Shifu chuckled and it reminded A-Li of the sound of a bubbling brook. How could somebody who looked constantly sad contain so much joy found only in living things and nature?

Ah, labels again, my dearest A-Li. You forget I existed before the beginning of the worlds you knew. Therefore, although my appearance is female, it didn’t have to follow that I had to have the power of yīn. Like you, A-Li, I was… am… a yáng. I have no equal in any of the created realms. At least, not yet. That’s why I couldn’t help you repair the Liánzi, should you tear it up. The last time I forced a repair with an unequal yīn, I… suffice to say, it didn’t end well.

A female yáng. A-Li was fascinated. He crawled from his meditative pose and sat closer to his Shifu. She smelled very fragrant, very much like how plum blossoms smelled when they bloom at the tail-end of winter to signal the coming spring.

So, was your yīn a male?

Yes, she nodded, although it was not lost on A-Li that her gaze turned infinitely sadder. But who said I only had one yīn?

A male yīn. Multiple yīns. Again, how fascinating.

Who are you, Shifu?

I AM the least of your worries, A-Li. Come, it’s time.

For what?

For your real lesson to begin.


One immortal day ago…

“Where are we going, Gun Gun?” A-Li asked as he impatiently walked the forest floor behind his nephew. “Where are we, at all? You said we were going to a tea farm.”

“Patience, Li Gē.”

A-Li tried to be patient. He had foreseen Gun Gun walking over a hedge of tea shrubs in the dark, which was why he had willingly gone along when his nephew excitedly shared about a top-secret high-grade tea location in one of the mortal realms.

A-Li had just returned from one of his trips to Hùndùn and was listening to Mei Lin complain how boring it was to be left alone in their rented house west of Nanking when Gun Gun arrived from the Thirty-Sixth Heaven’s Qīng Yún8 Hall.

Gun Gun’s Father, the former Heavenly Emperor Dong Hua, had just wrapped up the annual ceremony of giving titles to this year’s group of newly-ascended fairies. Like he did every year, Gun Gun went there to observe and silently support his Father. However, while waiting for Dong Hua Dijun to finish talking to the Star Lords of the Four Winds, Gun Gun found himself in a conversation with a new immortal who told him about a small valley town Southeast of Kunlun that benefited from one of the cleanest and holiest waters in any of the mortal realms, all because it was where water from Kunlun’s largest glacier, Báilóng, flowed into.

Unsuspectingly, the mortals who lived in the village only thought of their land as extremely fertile and suitable for growing most kinds of teas. Little did they know that Kunlun itself had ensured that their land was blessed. The new immortal claimed the small valley town produced a rare green tea breed that rivaled the best lóngjǐng cha [9] the world had ever had. The fact that only select mortal Royals and a few elite knew added to the exclusivity.

Gun Gun was immediately sold.

There was one slight complication though, the new fairy warned. The land absorbed magick like a sponge so the only way to get to there was to walk from certain jump-off spots.

Following the immortal’s direction, Gun Gun, A-Li, and Mei Lin landed in a forest on what was supposed to be the outer recesses of the town of Huicūn.

A-Li stretched his neck up to the forest cover above. The foliage was so dense that there was no way for moonbeams to filter past. Another stumble on a protruding tree root yet again was enough to elicit a growl from him. He finally let go of his tongue.

“Do you have a night pearl with you? Because I can use one just about now.”

Gun Gun’s hand shot inside his sleeve and back out it came with a medium-sized night pearl. Unfortunately, while it was big enough for one, the light it emitted was still too small to guide their entire party across the vast forest expanse.

“We’re close.”

A-Li sighed exasperatedly. “You said that a while ago.” The night pearl cast light on Gun Gun’s furrowed features and with a sinking feeling inside his stomach, A-Li realized they were lost.

And now, right before them towered a thicket of dwarfed zào jiá [10] trees— a species that grew thorns in their trunks and branches. The trees were only about six to nine chi [11] high, putting all thorns within their body level.

Mei Lin squinted her immortal eyes to as far as it could see from her right to her left, and drew a shaky breath as a result. “We have to go through this small forest, Bái Chī [12]. Admit it, we’re lost.”

Gun Gun looked at them and with a sheepish smile, nodded, “We’re lost.”

A-Li summoned magick to pave a way for them through the thicket, only to come up disappointed.

“I guess magick doesn’t work from this point on. Can’t you nullify the wards over this place?”

“There are no wards, Zūzu.” He tried to shoot crimson hellfire from his hands but the best it could come up with was smoke rising from his fingertips. “It is as what that immortal said. The land absorbs all magick.” He turned to Gun Gun. “Do you really want to go to this place? We can postpone this to tomorrow.”

“Aren’t we going back to Wuji Island tomorrow? I want to bring Gēge and Jiějie some of this town’s specialty tea. And my Father, too.”

He sighed. It seemed part of the vision that he had had really had to happen tonight.

A-Li muttered under his breath and held out his hand to summon his Chun Jun sword. He appreciated how the airtight scabbard was able to keep the blade very sharp even if he didn’t use it for long spells of time. The metal hilt felt cold and welcoming in his hands.

The trees were not breathing, moving targets but, at least, it would do as their exercise tonight. A glance at Gun Gun and Mei Lin showed that they had taken out their own swords, too.

A-Li led the charge and started hacking through the branches, the wood pleading no resistance to the blessed sharpness of his blade. They went at it for quite a bit until the moon slid its position by a few degrees in the sky and A-Li noticed light at the end of the thicket. With renewed fervor, he sliced faster across the last few bu [13] until he stepped into the edges of an extensive tea farm located inside a valley.

From as far as he could see, that was. The moon was but a small slice of silver in the sky. Instead, Yínhé [14] covered the sky like a forest canopy and swallowed all the surrounding light so only its spectacle could shine.

It had been 5’000 years since but A-Li still couldn’t look at the stars— Yínhé, most of all. Every time he did, his chest would start to tighten and he found it hard to breathe. It was a strange condition but even Zhe Yan said there was no cure because there was nothing physically wrong with him. Your cultivation has never been higher, the Old Phoenix would say and then give him a knowing look. A-Li always made a hasty excuse to retreat right away.

There was no cure because, really, what was the cure to a broken heart?

A-Li clutched at his chest, as he tried to calm his now rapidly-beating heart.

Light, right. He needed another source of light.

Swoosh! Crack! Crack! Crack!

A-Li turned around to see Mei Lin and Gun Gun frantically trying to control a rogue firecracker.

“What are you doing?” He hissed, as he snatched the firecracker’s still-flaming stub from Mei Lin’s hold. He threw it to the ground and stomped on it with his booted foot.

“I’m sorry,” Mei Lin apologized as she gave him an odd look. “I thought it was a candle when I bought it at the festival we passed through a while ago.”

There was no way anyone would mistake a firecracker for a candle. But this was Mei Lin. What use would candles be when she could summon fire at will from her own hands?

A-Li was about to deliver another reprimand when his nose caught the whiff of smoke.


A small fire was rapidly building several tea tree rows down.

Bells rang. Within moments, people’s shouts were heard coming from all sides.

They all looked at each other before they ran the distance to stand in front of the fire.

But before A-Li could do anything further, a strong wind picked up the flames and spread it in all directions. The fire immediately turned into an inferno, devouring entire sections of tea shrubs.

“Gun Gun, summon water!” Mei Lin shrieked in panic.

“I can’t! We don’t have magick, remember?”

A-Li rolled his eyes heavenward as he watched his cousin and nephew run around like headless chickens.

“There they are! Catch them!”

With no magick, there was no way the three of them could cloud jump out of the place. With the fire behind them and the angry swarm of villagers before them, A-Li, Gun Gun and Mei Lin knew that they were hopelessly trapped.

“We can take twenty heads each and snap them off,” Mei Lin snarled, her body lowering as it prepared to attack.

A-Li pulled his cousin to stand upright again. “There are rules for our conduct within the mortal realms. Stand down, Zūzu, and let’s try to talk our way out of this.”

“Or pay,” Gun Gun added calmly, his eyes more forlorn now than they’d ever been as he watched a particularly ancient tea tree a few steps away from him get engulfed in flames. “Oh, what a high price we’ll pay.”

Chapter 25



1. (大爺) Uncle, Father’s Older Brother

2. read as Tribe, but she used (种族) which meant ethnicity, race.

3. (生) translates to “life” or “to live”.

4. Numerology ties the number three as an auspicious number because it relates to life. (A person’s life has three major stages— birth, marriage, and death.)

5. Seven Senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, vestibular (movement & balance), and proprioception (space & position)

6. (陰 / 阴) Yīn is feminine, black, dark, north, water (transformation), passive, moon (weakness and the goddess Changxi), earth, cold, old, even numbers, valleys, poor, soft, and provides spirit to all things. Yin reaches its height of influence with the winter solstice. Yin may also be represented by the tiger, the color orange and a broken line in the trigrams of the I Ching (or Book of Changes).

7. (陽 / 阳) Yáng is masculine, white, light, south, fire (creativity), active, sun (strength and the god Xihe), heaven, warm, young, odd numbers, mountains, rich, hard, and provides a form to all things. Yang reaches its height of influence with the summer solstice. Yang may also be represented by the dragon, the color blue and a solid line trigram.

8. (青雲) meaning Blue Clouds

9. Dragon Well Tea, a type of green tea

10. Chinese Honeylocust Tree

11. Similar, but not exactly equivalent to, Western measurement for feet (between 12.3~13.4 inches)

12. (白痴)– idiot, Insult level 4/5. Bai (白) or white is the color of purity and innocence, and the character chī (痴) has a radical often used in relation to sickness. So it follows that too much purity or innocence leads to a diagnosis of idiocy.

13. (步) approximately 5-6 chi (chi is the equivalent for the Western foot, around 12~13 inches)

14. (銀河) Milky Way