Fanfiction3: A-Li's Three Lives, Three Worlds - Chapter 89 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)


Chapter 89

written by LigayaCroft

edited by Kakashi

Probably because she had never left on her own without telling anyone before, the sect’s guard was so relaxed that Wei Xiaolian had been able to leave Lijiang unimpeded before noon yesterday. The journey to Yongchang took about two weeks on foot, but with a horse it could be shortened to nine days. So, in a slight deviation from the rules of their sect, Wei Xiaolian took a horse with her and set off.

Last night was spent under the stars. While she took all the necessary precautions and tried to remain vigilant, all the excitement of the day caused her to sleep soundly while tied to a fat branch above a tall tree.

The following day, Wei Xiaolian was back on the road at sunrise, eager to find a traveler’s station so she could have something heavy and warm for lunch. By now, she was far enough from Lijiang to lose the radial protection of her grandfather’s staff, but instead of getting intimidated, it made her feel more determined.

Wei Xiaolian had had more blood shed for her than what one would want to see in the span of three lifetimes.

It was for this reason that despite having a weak cultivation base, she had worked very hard to be the martial artist that she was today. She might never be able to make use of sorcery, but she had made sure that she could fight. Yet, it still hadn’t been enough. Her last three expeditions without her Wàigōng coming along still ended up with the death of her companions.

So, no matter how sad she felt about her Wàigōng’s adoration of his newest student, Wei Xiaolian wouldn’t be able to bear it if something happened to Bai Li.

Bai Li was strategic, and he acted like he always knew exactly what to do. When Wàigōng had given him the command to set up a front for their operations, he had jumped in without hesitation and opened up a specialty tea store. He wasn’t even pretending to be a merchant either. It stunned her that he actually knew a lot about teas, from farm to table. He was also very good at entertaining clients with his stories and paying them attention. Wei Xiaolian reckoned more than half the female population of Lijiang frequented their store just to see him. Some had even resulted in sending Wei Xiaolian gifts and stopping her while she strolled the market to ask for more information about her ’cousin’, the handsome specialty tea merchant of Lijiang with the sad backstory.

Maybe at first Bai Li only made mention of his young widower status to discourage admirers. But the way he spoke of his dead wife to people, how he described her— the longing in his eyes, the sadness in his tone— only made things worse. He was labeled a romantic, which set him apart from most men in the world.

The married women, young and old alike, doted on Bai Li like their younger brother, or maybe, judging from how some fawned over him, their fantasy lover. Meanwhile, the single women could only sigh and preen in his presence.

For some reason, all the female attention irritated Wei Xiaolian. How could women even hope to get more beyond Bai Li’s professionalism? Considering how much Bai Li loved his departed wife, he would not be marrying anytime soon. This was well and good for Wei Xiaolian and with good reason.

While she would never say it to Bai Li’s face, Wei Xiaolian had felt immense relief when Bai Li joined their sect. The day when all the top cultivators in the sect would gather at the Selection to compete with Wàigōng would come too soon. If Bai Li could stand in for Wàigōng, her grandfather wouldn’t have to die.

Finally, somebody was worthy to challenge the ambitious men and Nine-Pocket Elders’ proteges across the lands who had set their eyes on inheriting the Dog Beating Stick. Her Wàigōng knew it too, and even if he tried to hide it from her, he always looked at Bai Li as though he had found a mountain of jade.

Her growling stomach demanded attention which brought her back to the present but Wei Xiaolian could not offer it any sustenance. The pothole-ridden dirt road she was on looked endless, with grass on both sides and trees providing her with shade that played with her eyes and made her feel sleepy. Still, she was spurred by the fact that the nearest town should be close, judging from the increase in shoe prints and wagon wheels marks going in the opposite direction.

But it was quiet. Too quiet. Even on a bright morning like this, it made Wei Xiaolian wonder why there were no birds chirping overhead. It could only mean that monsters were within close proximity. As if sensing the danger ahead, her horse even began to get skittish, too.

Wei Xiaolian looked around, so sure was she that she saw movement to the left, then to the right. She wondered just how many there were.


Wei Xiaolian kicked her horse so it could flee and ran to the nearest swamp cypress tree just in time before the thick, scaly body of a giant snake dropped down where she and her horse had been a few breaths ago.

A Bashe [1]. But this one was different, and definitely bigger than she had imagined them to be. Only a small portion of its black body was visible to her as the rest had disappeared back into the forest but judging from the thickness of its neck alone, this one was very long.

And ugly. Its agape mouth was about her height, the slithering tongue bright red and the gums black. The biggest of the front fangs was longer than her torso. The serpent’s eyes shone a bright yellow, with slits of black in the middle, which made the color more spectacular against its dark skin. It had hair that stuck out between its scales, much like a pig’s rough bristles. The noise it made also bothered her— not even a hiss but instead a loud sound, like a night watchman banging his rattle. The vibrations made her head feel like it was being dragged to her feet, pulling her eyelids down.

What she lacked in magick, Wei Xiaolian made up for in wit, stamina and physical strength. To fight against the onslaught of sleepiness, she took out a dagger, made several cuts on her bow arm and splashed liquor on them. The sharp slice of her blade, and the burning pain brought about by the alcohol on top of it, cut through her sleepy daze, which gave her enough focus to climb higher as the serpent’s head continued to rise to her level.

Finally, when she ran out of branches to climb up on and reached the conifer apex, Wei Xiaolian had no choice but to stand face to face with her nemesis who also paused to eye her. Half of its body was still coiled on the ground but at least its tail was out now, raised, which made the banging even louder.

She clicked her tongue while she poured liquor on her right palm which she then used to wipe over her wounds. But even the pervasive burn could hardly win against the onslaught of sleepiness, which made her curse.

“Well,” she told the serpent. “It looks like one of us is going to die today.”

Taking out her short bow and an arrow, she set her sight upon the giant snake’s weak spot— the inner corner of its left eye— which shone at her like a beacon in the night. Then she ran along the branch she was on, speed and her light-footing her ally, and jumped off toward the serpent just as it also made a lunge toward her.


Only when Wei Xiaolian was on her downward trajectory did she see that the serpent had not one but five weak points— one on the side of its eye, yes, but there were also one at the back of its head, two on its underbelly and one on the soft side of its tail.

She didn’t miss her initial target. The serpent screamed at the torment her arrow had caused, the force of the rotten egg-smelling wind that blew from its mouth enough to make trees sway and cause Wei Xiaolian’s trajectory to drift off toward the canopy of smaller trees. She crashed on to the branches, between soft leaves and rough wood that tore at her skin because of her light clothing.

She welcomed the pricking and sting as it helped her to keep awake. As soon as she could, she grabbed the branches and nimbly began swinging her way downwards while the vengeful serpent’s head darted in after her.

She hit the ground with an evasive forward roll and without losing a beat, started running toward the tail. When she was close enough, she sent another arrow flying to hit the weak spot there. The beacon that shone at her died when the arrow landed with precision. The serpent’s body uncoiled and re-coiled in reaction.

Wei Xiaolian replaced her bow and arrow with her unsheathed daggers. She continued running toward the writhing body mass and to that other weak point that dipped and resurfaced like a boat on a stormy night, all the while avoiding the indiscriminately swinging tail and the head that was bent to catch her between its jaws.

To strike at the underbelly required fast hand and foot work. Because the giant snake’s body was as thick as three oxen stacked on top of each other, one move too late and she could be crushed under its weight. But if she hesitated or struck with less precision, she could also lose her opening and the serpent might hide that weak spot, along with the other that was deeper along on its underbelly.

As she ran toward her next target, Wei Xiaolian thought of Bai Li again. Growing up without her parents and without the ability to cultivate sorcery made her resent the gods, so never in her life did she have the compulsion to pray. She had always maintained that the gods were asleep or indifferent to her existence, but right at that moment, she felt the urge to send a request to the heavens.

Please, I hope Bai Li will not leave my Wàigōng alone after I am gone. Or better yet, please let me live through this day so I can see my Wàigōng again

Her grandfather was Wei Xiaolian’s treasure, the one whom she held dear above anything else on this earth. Her greatest fear had always been of losing Wei Qiang, thus she had tried to push past her own limitations to find ways to be able to protect him when the time came for the Selection.

But, if she could not protect him, then Bai Li should. Should she die today, she swore that she would haunt him as a ghost if he failed to do his duty. Just the thought of the ways she would use to make Bai Li feel uncomfortable if she became a ghost pulled an unexpected smile from her lips.

Wei Xiaolian dashed past the giant snake’s body with her blades extended, delivering slashes that forced it to stretch and expose its underbelly. Finally, she saw her opening and leapt forward, using the serpent’s body as a stepping stone to jump at the target with her full force. Both her blades connected and buried deep to the hilt through the soft skin, showering her with copious amounts of blood. The beacon she had just pierced through lost its light.

Before she could get crushed, Wei Xiaolian used both her feet to kick herself off from the serpent and rolled to the ground, setting off running again towards the woods to buy herself time.

The banging had gotten louder but the serpent’s blood on her wounds turned out to be stronger than alcohol, which now made her skin feel like it was being burned with invisible fire. Her work to get to the first three weak spots had eaten through her stamina, but there was no time to hesitate. As the serpent slithered after her, she turned and ran toward it, jumping at the last minute just as she was about to be devoured. Her jump brought her to the space between its nostrils and using her hands and feet, Wei Xiaolian climbed as fast as she could toward the back of the serpent’s head to deliver a flurry of slashes that shredded through the scales to the soft skin underneath and snuffed the light out of the beacon there.

The serpent stretched up and weaved its head left and right to shake her off, crashing onto the tops of trees before it started slithering back on the ground at a faster speed. Wei Xiaolian hung on despite the series of random, destructive movements, ducking every now and then against trees and branches, even as the banging drowned out the sound of blood rushing through her ears. Only the serpent’s blood that poured from the fatal wound that she held on to with her right arm’s dagger helped keep the drowsiness at bay.

For the next few breaths, she could only hold on, and even that required strength, which she was running out of real fast.

She could take the Strength Regeneration Pills that she always had with her, except she didn’t like that she had no recollection of what happened to her afterward. Her companions still ended up dead, and with no memory to account for the sect, she had vowed never to use it again.

Or she could die now, holding on to that vow.

There had to be another way.

She spotted another swamp cypress tree in the forest that seemed to tower over the rest. Letting go of the dagger, she rolled to the ground and set off running toward the tree, trusting that the serpent would follow her scent. She made no pause when she reached the tree and instead jumped and started climbing.

The serpent did go after her, coiling itself around the tree and climbing faster than she could… except it didn’t expect her to jump to the next tree. Wei Xiaolian ran down the new tree’s branch to where it was connected to the trunk and waited for the serpent’s next move. With a bloodied eye, it looked more menacing, and its other yellow and black eye looked thoroughly pissed. But it took the bait and flew through the air toward her, stretching, just as she jumped again to the next tree.

Branches broke when met by the sheer weight of the monster’s body. The serpent let out a bellow as it tried to stabilize itself first— stretching then coiling onto the new tree while uncoiling from the previous one— before going again after Wei Xiaolian who nimbly jumped to the next tree.

On and on they went for a couple more trees until Wei Xiaolian found the perfect location for her next move. This time, as the serpent flew toward her, she jumped down to a lower branch of her current tree and using the momentum from that jump, launched toward the uncoiled body of the serpent where that last beacon shone.

The arrow that she fired from her short bow did the rest of the work.

The serpent wailed and in a flurry of muscle and skin, coiled and uncoiled before crashing down in a slump to the ground from the tree that Wei Xiaolian had been on. The banging sound its tail made slowed down in tempo until it died out.

Wei Xiaolian heaved and panted against the tree trunk she had wrapped her arms around. As she calmed down, her emotions surged. She began retching and bawling against the tree, arms and legs still shaking from all the exertion she had put them through.

But fate had other plans for her because even through her intense emotions, she heard the ominous banging again.


And from more than one source.

Wei Xiaolian looked down and watched in horror as two, three, no, five other Bashe slithered from the forest and appeared below her, with one of them bigger than the one she had just taken down.

Faced with her imminent doom, Wei Xiaolian could only laugh with resignation. So much for her prayers earlier.

The gods must indeed still be asleep today, like they were every day.

Chapter 90

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1) (巴蛇) - a giant snake big enough to eat elephants