Fanfiction3: A-Li's Three Lives, Three Worlds - Chapter 4 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 4

written by LigayaCroft
edited by kakashi & panda

Five Immortal Days Ago

Located at the confluence of the Luo River and the Yi River, with plains flanked by mountains and hills, Luoyang made for good inspiration to create paintings, music, architecture and poetry. The marriage of trade routes and breathtaking scenery had made royals, artists, merchants, and common folk converge to form a formidable city over decades of development. It was thus no surprise that Luoyang was considered to be the geographical center of the world.

No wonder Lian Song and Cheng Yu liked it here.

A-Li stepped into the mid-sized courtyard of the residence Lian Song and Cheng Yu occupied during their stays in the city. Out here, the couple acted as ambassadors from another kingdom, and were accorded the equivalent respect by its citizens. Immortal servants from the lower realms tended to the residence and alertly bowed and kowtowed as their group passed by. Some would say it was a bit too much but as an actual prince, Lian Song liked to be comfortable— having a slice of the thirty-six heavens at each of his residences was very important.

“So this is where the two of you have been going whenever you’re not with me lately.” A-Li remarked drily as he accepted the cold tea a servant poured for him.

“You know I like the mortal realms as much as you love the demon realms, Zhízi.” Lian Song explained as he took his seat at the head of the hastily-created banquet on the veranda overlooking the courtyard. The shadow from the potted-tile roof above them provided shade from the late spring sun. “Also, it’s very rare Cheng Yu is not occupied carrying on intellectual pursuits over that Terrace with my Father. I’m just making do with what I got. By the way, I haven’t heard from our little demoness in weeks now. Where’s your cousin?”

A-Li thought about how his cousin must be faring right about now. “Her parents went on a holiday again and assigned her to watch over Kunlun.”

“Really?” Lian Song looked up, mentally counting the days. Then he snickered. “She must be dying by now. What did she do this time for her to be punished so severely? I know she’d rather cut her own foot than to stay one day longer than she has to on that Mountain.”

“I called her copper mirror before we went to Jiǔjiébiān.” Gun Gun shared, nodding at the servant who instantly brought over a freshly-brewed pot of tea for him. “From the way she started screaming at me when I told her where we’re going, I believe she’s not doing well. I think High God Mo Yuan sky-bonded her to Kunlun so she couldn’t escape even if she turned herself to dust.” Gun Gun raised his teacup to his nose and blanched in distaste. “Gēge, no disrespect but you can do better than this Fenghuang Dan Cong [1].”

Lian Song tilted his head to one side and sweetly replied, “If you can survive eating your father’s sweet and sour fish, you can very well survive drinking my allegedly substandard tea. Why must you be so picky?”

With his usual silvery white hair transformed to black so as to blend in well with mortals, Gun Gun looked less imposing, but the black strands against his very fair skin also made him look more handsome. The women of Luoyang will find it hard to control their impulses around my nephew, A-Li thought. He expected nothing less than fainting and swooning to ensue when they strolled around the city tomorrow.

A-Li grinned at his nephew. “Better keep your tea judgments to yourself, Gun Gun.” Just then, Cheng Yu arrived, still dressed like a man. “Cheng Yu, where have you been?”

“Pe Kang Li. I dropped off some gifts and asked the Madam to allow Wang Ling to grace our courtyard with her presence at the end of the hour of the rooster [2] tonight.”

A-Li looked up to the sky. That would be quite some time after sunset, give or take. How special could one be for Cheng Yu to go deliver presents herself?

“I’ve never seen a more beautiful nor more talented courtesan in all my years of roaming the mortal realms.” Lian Song pointed to both A-Li and Gun Gun, his eyes full of glee. “The two of you are in for a treat.”

A-Li doubted that but he chose not to bring it up. Instead, he asked, “Have you two already bedded her?”

Husband and wife looked at each other then to A-Li and laughed.

“We’ve known her since she started at Pe Kang Li when she was sixteen [3] so that’s… nine mortal years ago? Ever since then I don’t think she’s ever taken more than five men to her bed.” Lian Song held up his wine glass for a refill, which an attendant alertly stepped up to do. “Or the men could just be bragging. The exclusivity adds to her allure and subsequently, her price.”

“So, no?”

“I don’t take intelligent partners to bed, remember?” Cheng Yu answered, pouring herself more cold tea. “It’s the only reason why that Old Dragon over there has me back in his scaly grasp.”

Lian Song dramatically put his hand over his heart but the twinkle in his eyes told them he took no offense.

“By the way, husband, she only has time for one dance. Apparently, the Crown Prince and some Generals are in town so the rest of her evening is already occupied.”

“That’s a shame.” Lian Song remarked, shaking his head. “I had in mind to put her and A-Li head-to-head at [4] tonight but now it seems our pre-existing bet on who wins between the two will have to be postponed yet again for another day.”

“Intelligence is easily wasted on mortal women.” Gun Gun said ruefully. “If she’s good enough to match against Li-Gē [5], then more’s the pity.”

A-Li nodded in agreement. No other race in the Six Realms had stripped power from their women so. His own sisters were very lucky in that regard.

The topic interestingly brought about a discussion on how fairy-born immortal women generally weren’t that smart. Lian Song pointed out the Bai women as an example. Gun Gun immediately launched to his mother’s defense stating whatever Qing Qiu Fox Queen Bai Feng Jiu and the Heavenly Empress Bai Qian might have lacked in book-smarts, they made up for with courage and wisdom attributed to age later on in life.

“I wonder to what level of debauchery you have to stoop down to before your parents give up on you.” Cheng Yu interrupted, as she tried to change the topic before a greater debate was launched. It had long been accepted that there was no love lost between Lian Song and Bai Qian, all because of how differently they loved the same child, and they needed to get the Old Dragon to change his topic.

“Are we giving up now?” A-Li chuckled.

His friends had been helping him commit scandalous acts as they knew how much A-Li wanted to escape being the Crown Prince if he had the chance.

“It’s been 20’000 years since we started you on your road to perdition.” Cheng Yu remarked drily. “We are quickly running out of shocking things to do.”

“I have a feeling we are bound to be disappointed.” A-Li sighed, thinking about the latest admonishment he received from his Father. Every time he got into trouble, he wished for his parents to finally give up and declare that he was unfit as a future Crown Prince. Alas, that day was yet to come. “My Father is a very patient man.”

They went on drinking until the sun had fallen, and well beyond that. Mortal wine wasn't as strong as Zhe Yan or Mo Yuan’s wines but A-Li was in a celebratory mood, as it was rare that the four of them were together with no swords or bodies flying to overhead.

He didn't notice when ten Jìnǚ joined them, and Musicians set up in the courtyard.

Suddenly, a huge wall of fire lanterns lit in unison, causing Gun Gun to jump from his seat.

“Master, let me pour you more wine.”

A-Li vaguely heard the courtesan attending to him, his attention diverted toward the tall veiled woman in a frost white overcoat who walked to the middle of the courtyard.

So, that was Wang Ling?

“The veil is for when Big Sister travels, Master,” explained the painted courtesan to his left. “The Madam is very careful not to show her face in public unless necessary.”

Two attendants came over to remove her hat, veil and overcoat, and A-Li had his first glimpse of her face.

Granted, her face was painted, but her powders and rouge could not hide the small oval shape of her face, that slightly knowing smile on her lips as she looked at Cheng Yu and those big, mischievous eyes that slanted upwards.

A-Li was intrigued.

The music cued, and A-Li found himself mesmerized over the next couple of breaths.

Wang Ling wore over a loose, voluminous white and blue ruqun [6]. The layers shimmered and sparkled like moonbeams over water as she danced with terrifying grace, letting her water sleeves furl and unfurl as she moved before her lit background. She had bells tied to her feet and on the golden coronet she wore, making every move tinkle as light as stars twinkle uninterrupted in the mortal skies during cloudless nights.

She danced like the flames inside the lanterns on the wall behind her, dazzling and yet threatening to consume. Just as her gaze met his, the collar of her ru [7] and a rogue tendril of hair finally gave in to the veiled savagery of her movements. Both fell loose; the hair landed and moved like a snake on top of her porcelain skin and thus highlighted the creamy top of her left chest and shoulder.

It was then that A-Li knew, just knew, he had to have her. His breath hitched in his throat. The hairs on his arms rose. He couldn’t even trust himself to raise his glass to his lips or someone might notice the slight tremor of his fingers.

Something about her called to that visceral part of him that disregarded reason.

The tinder had been lit.

Now, A-Li’s insides were on fire.

He looked at Gun Gun, 2’300 years younger but not affected like he was of her.

Who is she? What is she doing to me?

Blessedly, the music ended. The courtyard turned so quiet that one could hear a pin drop. She walked, no, floated towards them. The only indication that she moved at all underneath all that layer of silk was the soft tinkle that came from the bells tied to her feet.

Wang Ling was a tall, slender woman and yet, the way she carried herself reminded A-Li of the dangerous majesty of a tiger — no action borne out of place, each muscle and sinew moving to a purposeful beat. Her eyes looked straight ahead to Lian Song and yet, A-Li knew, she saw everything.

He wondered if she could hear his slightly labored breathing.

“Lian Song Jiéxià [8],” she greeted. She cupped her hands before her and bowed. A-Li’s eyes did not miss how the small movement emphasized the enticing curve of her breasts. “Welcome back to Luoyang.”

Lian Song nodded. “Wang Ling, thank you for the warm welcome.”

“It was my pleasure, Jiéxià.”

“Let me introduce to you my nephews, A-Li and Gun Gun.”

She gave Gun Gun a slight smile. A-Li’s heart thundered in his chest when her assessing eyes once again looked over him.

“My Lords.” she bowed to Gun Gun, then A-Li. “I hope you find your stay in Luoyang pleasant.” To Cheng Yu, she warmly greeted, “My Lady, thank you for the new books you sent over this morning. I will endeavor to finish them very soon.”

Cheng Yu returned the smile. “I’m sure you will. I look forward to your lively reviews of them over afternoon tea.”

Her eyes lit up and finally, she smiled a smile that showed her teeth, transforming her painted face to look several years younger.

The greetings done, Wang Ling bowed and remained bowed as she slowly retreated.

“Where is she going?” A-Li whispered to his granduncle.

“Back to the Jìyuàn. Her performance is over so she's leaving.”

“Wang Xiaojie [9]!”

Wang Ling stopped walking and lifted her face to A-Li. Only then did A-Li realize he had actually called out to her!

“A-Li,” Lian Song hissed. “What do you think you're doing?”

What was he doing? He was moving. He was acting on his impulses. For the first time in his long life, he’d seen something he liked and he had to have it. For a month. Several months. At least until the novelty faded.

Even if she was a fēngyuè-nǚ [10].

“May I call on you tomorrow?”

He was confident. Maybe too confident that she would say yes.

Hence, his jaw practically dropped on the table when she smiled so sweetly, like the sun breaking through the sky on a dark and cloudy day, and respectfully said, “No, Li Géxià [11]. You may not.”

Then with a last respectful bow, she turned and left.

Chapter 5


1. Oolong tea from Phoenix Town in Chao-zu, Guandong province. The leaves are plucked beginning at the end of April. The tea brew has a strong fruity scent and sweet taste.

2. Between 5pm-7pm

3. Chinese Age. Her actual age was around fourteen, all because her birthday happened a few weeks before the New Year

4. (弈) ancient name for Go, Weiqi

5. A suffix used for older male relative or friend.

6. (襦裙) Traditional clothing which consist of a cross-collar blouse (ru) and a skirt (qun)

7. (襦) Open cross-collar shirt

8. Literally means, “beneath your banner”. Luoyang citizens’ form of address for Lian Song in deference to his “ambassador from a foreign land” role.

9. Means Miss, but is a form of address for prostitutes.

10. Means “wind-moon woman”, another term for prostitute.

11. Literally means "beneath your pavilion". Used when addressing important people, or to show respect to the person. Equivalent to Excellency.