Fanfiction3: A-Li's Three Lives, Three Worlds - Chapter 72 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 72

written by LigayaCroft
edited by Panda/Kakashi

The problem with the location of the royal palaces in the Sky Kingdom was that it was always bright. Here, there was no pretense of day and night. After all, gods might need rest but that didn't necessarily mean they needed the kind of sleep that mortals took where the natural rhythms of their created flesh depended on whether or not the moon was out.

Still, for Celestial gods who had experienced what it had been like to dwell in other realms, the concept of night and day held its appeal. A-Li was one of those who had grown up adhering to the practice.

His Mother, the Heavenly Empress had raised him and his siblings with an appreciation for the concept of sleep despite their home’s everbright skies. This meant setting aside a prescheduled time to unfurl the heavy dark curtains that hung over the windows and minimizing the number of candles that were to remain lit inside the palace walls. While many Celestials deemed this an unnecessary quirk of somebody who didn't grow up in the Sky Kingdom; A-Li had always been grateful for the practice.

It was one less thing his mortal wife needed to adjust to.

He turned in bed where he lay, and smiled as his eyes recognized his wife’s beloved profile in the dim light.

She was sleeping again. Despite having watched her sleep so many times, he still couldn’t get over the awe of seeing her breathe.

When the natural need to hold her close couldn’t be held back anymore, he reached out and wrapped his arm around her, pulling the curve of her hips tight against his front.

“Mmm,” she murmured, taking the hand on her belly and lifting it to her lips. “How did your talk with your Father go?”

A-Li nuzzled his nose against her fragrant hair, trying his best to remember. It danced in the back of his head, but like smoke he couldn't grab the memory. Besides, how could he concentrate when his wife smelled and felt so good?

Drifting in the sea of relaxation that only her mere presence could take him to, A-Li closed his eyes.

Darkness swiftly claimed his consciousness but instead of peace, he felt endangered.

I need to get away.

In the darkness of what could only be Hùndùn, A-Li looked back and saw the inferno that was about to explode, momentarily suspended by his magic but not for long.

He looked around and chose an uncreated world. A-Li expended his remaining strength to push the explosion toward that world.

Creation and Destruction.

Yin and Yang.

But he was neither strong nor fast enough. Even as he tried to protect himself from the aftermath by putting up a protective shield, he still got caught within the otherworldly fire.

A-Li was so sure he was going to die when he felt a scaly body wrap itself around him just as the worst of the fiery maelstrom hit. As they wheezed past worlds into another uncreated one he realized the body had a form: a dragon as black as Hùndùn.

That was foolish… and brave, the dragon reprimanded as it settled him on the misty ground then transformed into its human form.


Her braids moved as she acknowledged A-Li’s greeting.

If you had not gotten that thing out of Jiuchongtian, it would have been a carnage.

After settling him to sit down on the ground, his Shifu raised her bangled arms and healed him.

Through his many adventures, A-Li would sometimes find himself injured and heading for the Yellow Crater Salt Lagoons in the Demon Realms, famed for its healing mud. A-Li found out early on that he repaired better there than when in the Lord of Numinous Treasures’ healing pools.

It fascinated A-Li to see her draw power from the ground. Like the mud, his Shifu’s magick enveloped him with soothing warmth.

Why did that man explode?

Shouldn’t your question be was he the culprit or a victim? Do you remember what had happened before he exploded?

A-Li frowned as he tried to recall the details. It felt hazy, especially in this place, where the surroundings felt dark and bright at the same time.


A gathering… his great grandfather’s birthday party. He had arrived late, leaving Gun Gun to fend off the wall of female admirers that had descended upon them because he… he needed to talk to his Father. Right. He came in late, just as his Father had finished giving a speech for his great grandfather.

Somebody stood up and started approaching the Throne, shouting gibberish in a language that A-Li could not translate. The assailant’s skin became translucent, almost porous until his veins showed what seemed like dark, throbbing fire. The young man glowed while all the air in the hall got sucked by his entire being.

A-Li heard somebody shout that the man was about to explode, saw Dong Hua Dijun and his grandfathers Zhe Yan and Bai Zhi move to contain it and somehow he knew it wasn’t enough. He had to help.

He did, but it was still lacking. The Old Gods strained as the screaming from the scurrying guests within the Hall reached a fevered pitch.

“It’s too… strong,” A-Li heard his grandfather, Bai Zhi groan. “I don't think I can hold it for much longer.”

A-Li felt his insides shake with exertion but why was he even straining? Instead of relying solely on his cultivation, A-Li once again drew power from Hùndùn, and the weight that was lifted off his grandfather's shoulders showed in Bai Zhi’s face.

For a moment, A-Li thought that they were going to succeed too. The victory was shortlived as with an unholy wail, the Desert Prince began to disintegrate, his flesh melting from his bones and for some reason, the flames chose to creep onto A-Li, attempting to suck him into its vortex.


A-Li turned his head and saw his youngest sister, Chenwei, frozen in terror where she stood a couple of steps away from him. In what could only be due to the despondency of their situation, A-Li thought to scold his sister for her low neckline.

And that was when it all sank in.

His entire family was in the hall.

They could get hurt, or die.

Without any hesitation, he grabbed the man and went to Hùndùn.


You did what you had to, his Shifu rationalized for him as though she read his thoughts and at that moment, A-Li wondered if she had. Her azure eyes seemed to bore into his very soul.

Whoever she was, with her ability to protect him from the consuming inferno a while ago, she had to be very powerful. But why dwell in Hùndùn when all the gods resided on the other side of the Veil?

Shifu, how did you end up here?

She looked at him then turned her head to her left. A-Li couldn’t see her expression as she spoke.

I wish you had the time to find out. But you don't. Not at this time.

I don’t understand.

Her healing magick stopped flowing, alerting A-Li.

Go back now, and be a hero.

But I am still unwell, he rationalized. His insides still hurt with fire even though her healing magic had helped relieve some of the pain.

I’ve done what I could to heal your most severe injuries. Your cousin has been taught well. She can heal what’s left.

Cousin. A-Li smiled, closing his eyes as he leaned his back on the trunk of his Shifu’s bodhi tree. She must be referring to Mei Lin. But who taught Mei Lin? His spitfire cousin had always been too lazy to read Zhe Yan’s books and study.

Still, it triggered something in A-Li’s memory. This had always been the problem with staying in Hùndùn— time seemed to not exist, and with it, his memories sometimes turned hazy.

“I told you there was no need for me to bring this so that Old Phoenix could confirm. I have memorized the books —”

Who was Mei Lin talking to at that time? A-Li’s tongue itched with a name. He shook his head several times, trying to find his way out of the mental fog. He was about to ask his Shifu when her voice rang clear in her mind.

“I know, but I want you to return sooner. So just attend the celebration, leave this at Zhe Yan’s doorstep, and come back as fast as you can, alright? I don't want to give birth without you.”

It only took a moment— that moment— for fear to grip his heart. His eyes opened and he looked for his Shifu, who stood a few steps away with her back toward him, her long unbraided hair billowing in the wind. She held a flowering stalk of lily in her hand, its white petals fluttering.

He shot up and with great pain as a result of the sudden movement, he crawled to kneel at her feet, head to the ground.

Shifu, thank you for your grace. I will be leaving now.
And where will you go?

With a soft crunch, the lily stalk she was holding snapped into two. The flower fell and got dragged by the wind on the coarse ground, its petals gradually getting bruised in the process. His Shifu allowed the flower to flail a bit before she stepped on it, crushing it.

So fragile. Yet such is a mortal’s life.

He looked up, finding her looking at him with the madness of stormy waters in her eyes.

She’s gone.

A-Li swayed unevenly as he stood up on his feet, his chest aching with a sharp pain as if something imploded inside. In his mind he could still see how Huo Zheng looked like the last time that he had seen her, waving goodbye with a big smile on her face and her hand over her belly.

How did she— he choked, unable to get the words out.

Die? She was a mortal. Does it even matter how she died?

Her name is Huo Zheng. She’s not just any mortal. She is my wife! She is carrying my child!
Where do you think you are going?

Her voice halted A-Li from pulling back the Liánzi.. the Veil.

The inevitable has happened and I fear even if you go back now, you will not be able to do anything to stop it. As injured as you are, you will not be able to make it a couple of steps away from the closest point of entry to Huicūn.

A-Li’s hands went up to his head to tear at his hair. He struggled to breathe, once again taken back to the feeling of helplessness he had felt when he first found out that Xue Jiaolong had died, and the abysmal emptiness that he had been subjected to during the thousands of years he had spent living yet knowing that she was gone forever.

If you go to Huicūn, you will die. You will turn into dust, and what good will that do when you know by now that she can return?

A-Li brought his shaky hand to clutch at his Shifu’s wrist.

Who was she?

You should know better by now that you will not get an answer from me. This is your trial, and I am already meddling enough as it is. All you can do now is to choose wisely the roads that diverge in front of you. Mourn the death of your mortal wife and child, yes, but do not be like your parents in the process. Your family needs you.

His Shifu lifted her hand and drew the Veil toward Jiuchongtian. There was a great commotion in the Hall he had left just moments ago. His Mother looked despaired and his Father… A-Li turned toward his Shifu, amazed.

Is this real? How are we able to see them?

Have you forgotten? The Mirrors in Dìyu are the Veil. Hence, the Veil can also function like a Mirror. You need to go now. Go.

Later. He would have time to process everything later. He would find her. He would find out what had happened to her. Then he would find a way to forgive himself for leaving her alone again.

But first he needed to get well.

A-Li steeled himself, pushing down the feeling of despair that threatened to overwhelm him. He took a step toward the Veil but found himself looking back.

Will I see her again, Shifu?

Will you believe me if I told you I do not know?

He nodded despite the twisting inside his stomach.

It’s true, A-Li. I do not know.

Chapter 73