Fanfiction3: A-Li's Three Lives, Three Worlds - Chapter 46 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 46

Written by LigayaCroft
Editing by Kakashi and Panda
Consultant Bunny

Xie Guchou did not stray far from the hall but stayed just outside the huge doors, pacing to and fro as he waited for the First Prince of the Celestial Realms to finish the task at hand. His stomach seemed filled with hundreds of butterflies as he wondered about the repercussions of his request, and the inquest that would take place afterwards if it were ever known that he had endangered a royal.

With awfully long lives, immortals always found it easy to forget the complex history of the worlds they lived in — else they would have warned the younger ones about it. Of course, nobody beside himself remembered that his own palace used to be a place of merriment and light; and with his own admittedly faulty memory, Xie Guchou was convinced that the despicable Fuxi had had something to do with the end of that. He had kept this opinion to himself all these years however, as with the establishment of that school, Fuxi had easily painted himself as an all-powerful, all-knowing God.

Truth be told, he was now certain that he had taken a risk he shouldn't have. But seeing Li’s flaming eyes excited Xie Guchou and made him wonder if the boy indeed had it in him to repair the damage that his ancestor had wrought.

Could the boy do it? The First Prince was but 45’000 years old and only a High Immortal. Could he really undo the damage wrought by an all-mighty Primordial God?

Xie Guchou was cast back to the present when the ground under his feet suddenly started shaking. Faint at first until the ground started heaving with a force so strong, all Xie Guchou could do was to throw himself on his belly on the floor and try to flatten himself the best he could. Suddenly, along with the explosion of light that nearly blinded Xie Guchou’s dark-accustomed eyes, an inexplicable wave of energy hit him so hard the very foundations of his palace shook and swayed with several ominous and awful groans. The Palace’s other occupants and the hells below could be heard screaming, the cacophony of noise rivaling the sound of a disturbed bats’ nest.

Just when the noise and shaking became too much even for Xie Guchou’s immortal ears to bear, everything went still like before.

As soon as he could, and with his heart in his throat, Xie Guchou scrambled to his feet and called out to the door, “Diànxià, this lowly one would like to enter. Are you alright? Diànxià? Diànxià?”

When a few more moments passed with no response from the First Prince, Xie Guchou’s cold and clammy hands wrapped around the door handles and pushed it forward.

It took him a moment to realize that for the first time, he could actually see what he hadn’t seen in many millennia: the intricately engraved doors that were made of Celestial Gold. Not only that, but the masterpieces he had painstakingly painted over the walls now revealed itself in its various hues. So stunning was the sheer beauty of his own creation that it almost distracted him from the bigger problem at hand. With a shake of his head, Xie Guchou turned toward the direction of the mirrors whose polished surfaces now cast light to the reflectors on the walls, which in turn bathed his entire palace in light.

“Diànxià?” He called out reverently, stepping into the space in the middle of the mirrors, and gasped when he saw that all that was left were wisps of golden ashes, some floating in the air and some scattered on the floor. The air even smelled of burnt flesh and faintly crackled with remnants of burnt cloth.

He fell on his knees, the air from the weight of his robes causing the dormant ashes to fly in the air. He had expected the First Prince to at worst be injured but to still have the wisdom to pull out at the first sight of danger, like he had in the many times he had struggled to repair the broken mirror. He had not thought it possible the First Prince Li would disintegrate into ashes and die at all.

Xie Guchou’s hand gripped at his own throat and slid down to the tie that held his colorful neck scarf together, and started untying it if only to help alleviate the choking sensation that suddenly overwhelmed him.

What to do? What do I do?
He could not avoid seeing the Royal Family, with their patriarch celebrating his birthday soon. The Heavens had kicked into full-gear in preparations for a grand celebration. The First Prince’s absence would be conspicuous. And if he, Overlord of the Underworld, was absent too, even more so. Not that news of his Palace being all lit up now wouldn't reach the Jiuchongtian soon as well.

Light? Who needed light when he finally had the accursed mirror repaired? The chances of bringing his Master, Nüwa, back was at an all-time high.

But would he be alive too see Nüwa come back? Would the Celestial Tribunal spare his life for having a hand in the death of the Heavenly Emperor’s oldest son?

He had lived a long life, and had made a way possible for his Master to come back. Xie Guchou was determined there was only one way to find out if this would be his great calamity: He would go up to Jiuchongtian, admit his sin and plead for mercy himself in front of the Heavenly Emperor.


You foolish boy, what have you done?

A-Li opened his eyes and looked around. Darkness with so much light wrapped around him — its murkiness soothing him, cooling him, healing him.

As soon as his eyes adjusted to this symphony of dark and light, he saw her.

His Shifu.

Hùndùn. He was in Hùndùn. Similar to the time he had first appeared here after Mei Lin and Gun Gun had both fatally attacked him at Wuji Island, it seemed his Shifu had once again pulled him in right before he disintegrated. He hadn’t known it was her then, and hand’t known until much, much later, until they had started training, what she had done. But once he knew, he had been grateful.

And now he owed her again.

You are indeed your Father’s child. I do not know if I should feel ashamed or mad.

She glared at him. Her hands were moving and it was then that A-Li realized she was healing him. Rivulets of golden energy fused with his skin, attempting to sew back together what the mirror had forcibly taken.

What happened? He asked her as he moved his arms. It felt like wading his limbs through curative mud.

You almost died; that’s what happened. What have I told you about executing repairs on the Liánzi? What kind of unfilial student are you that you didn’t listen to your Shifu?

Wait, Shifu… he interrupted, taking his eyes off the flow of golden light that came from the tips of her fingers. So the mirror was a part of Liánzi?

A physical manifestation of — yes, Shifu sighed. Very, very powerful and very, very dangerous.

Liánzi existed to maintain the balance against two opposing forces — draw in yīn, draw out yáng, draw in yáng, draw out yīn. His earlier assessment on the energies that swirled to and from the broken mirror turned out right.

It was A-Li’s turn to feel incensed. If it was dangerous, why do we have five of them installed in Diyu? To what — light a Palace?

The mirrors are there to help stabilize the yīn of the entire Diyu. Granted one got broken but loss of light in Xie Guchou’s Palace was a small price to pay to keep Diyu up and working.

Did I fix the mirror? He asked, remembering how parts of his cultivation had formed the missing parts of Celestial Bronze right before he had closed his eyes.

His Shifu’s eyes gleamed in the bright darkness — was she proud of him? — but, she gave a dissatisfied sigh.

Yes, you did. But you almost died. Is a mortal worth a Celestial Crown Prince’s life?

His Shifu’s words brought the thought of Huo Zheng front and center once again. A-Li thought about the time — how long had he been gone? Hùndùn had that distinct capability of making one forget about time. He had found out long ago that time stretched farther here. He would think he was gone for only an immortal day only to discover he was actually away for three, or more.

He didn’t have an immortal day to spare.

A-Li looked around to find the created world in which Huo Zheng was.

A-Li, what do you think you are doing? I am not yet finished healing you!

He turned to bow to his Shifu and apologized, Forgive me for troubling you, Shifu, but I have to go. I will return as soon as I can.

A-Li! Don't be foolish. If you leave now, you might die!

But A-Li had already crossed Liánzi, willing the particles to take him to Chángyíng.


Worlds-travel used to be painless but not today. As A-Li summoned mortal clothing right before he parted the Veil shrouding him from the Duchess’ room, he knew he was in trouble. Pain enveloped his insides — as if something had exploded and his innards were on fire.

The room was a cacophony of noise while the Duke and his crowd of well-wishers surrounded the conscious Duchess. His eyes scanned the room to find Huo Zheng sitting on a chair, assisted by a maid and an immortal in the guise of a woman wearing deer antlers.

A-Li’s chest caved in with relief to see her pale but breathing. She’s alive! he thought through the maelstrom of pain that clouded his sight and made him see black spots.

His eyes met the immortal’s, who rushed over, feet thudding loudly on the wooden floor.

“So it is true!” The immortal swept into a low bow from the torso up. “Diànxià, this lowly servant greets you.”

A-Li swallowed the tangy liquid that pooled inside his mouth, his eyes briefly sweeping over Huo Zheng who had stood up and began walking with assistance in his direction. He held out his hand for her as his eyes spotted their satchels in a corner of the floor.

With a wave of his hand, he rendered the entire household, save for the Duke, unconscious. Bodies thudded as they landed on the floor, including the maid who was attending to Huo Zheng, causing her to lose her balance. A-Li alertly kept her upright with his magick.

It was such a small move, and on normal occasions almost an afterthought, but it cost A-Li greatly. His mouth quickly filled with blood once more. He took another swallow and within his closed mouth, ran his tongue along his teeth before he spoke again.

“Xin Wuji! Step forward and receive your punishment!”

The Duke didn't need to be told twice and gingerly approached. It had not escaped A-Li’s notice that the man’s hands trembled. But he had to give it to the Duke, the man did not cower.

The Duke did however kneel before A-Li.

And as if the Heavens knew he was about to utter another sky-curse, the air sizzled with the smell of ether. Five thousand immortal years since he had last uttered a sky-curse and despite having possessed a much better handle on his power now— still, heat suffused his face as the desire to crush a destiny pushed to the forefront of his mind.

“Xin Wuji, for unnecessarily endangering Huo Zheng's life, you are denied the privilege to be reincarnated.” Each word that he uttered gave him that same half-euphoric, half-painful tingling in his stomach, which would have been oddly pleasant, if not for the fact that he was in so much pain. "You are not to approach Huicun nor its inhabitants ever again. And you are forbidden to communicate to anyone about what had transpired here else your mortal line will burn to ashes in this generation, and you and your family will be no more. Confirm that you have received and will heed my word.”

Xin Wuji nodded and kowtowed several times before speaking up. “All I am is grateful for your mercy, and for bringing my wife back to me. I accept your punishment. Be it is as you wish — Diànxià.”

A-Li took a deep breath and sidestepped the Duke to get to Huo Zheng whose steps had quickened to close the distance between them. Her arms reached out for him as her mouth opened to form his name. At the cost of the last of his strength, he enfolded her into his arms and turned to the guised immortal.

"Please receive us into your home."

The immortal wordlessly nodded.

"Hold on tight, Xiăohŭ," he whispered against her temple, and reveled at the comforting smell of her clean and floral scent.


Alive. She's alive.

"A-Li," Her hands cupped his face, her eyes searching his. "Thank you for coming back to me. I was so worried about you."

He guided her arms around his shoulders and wrapped his arms around her torso. She shivered as she tucked the side of her face against his neck. A-Li had never been as thankful to feel another's breath against his. Her body was delightfully warm and it effectively melted away all the residual coldness he still felt after his sojourn in Diyu and Hùndùn.

His body was wrecked with pain but it was all worth it. He was in pain but at peace.

Because she's alive.

And it was all that mattered.

Even if each intake of breath had started to feel like it must be his last.

* * *

Chapter 47