Fanfiction3: A-Li's Three Lives, Three Worlds - Chapter 68 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 68

written by LigayaCroft
edited by kakashi

“Protect the Emperor and the Empress!”

The most elite officers of the Celestial Army crowded around Ye Hua and Bai Qian, pushing them farther away from the center of the room to ensure their safety but Ye Hua, and even more so Bai Qian, pushed back.

“A-Li,” she cried above the panicked shouting and the tinkling of the ornaments on her hair as she pushed behind two to four soldiers. “What happened to my son? Where has he gone?”

Ye Hua was still in a state of shock himself but as that weaned off, it gave way to any parent’s worst fear: the safety of their offspring.

“Let us through,” he commanded the circular wall of bodies surrounding them as he took hold of his wife’s hand. To the generals, he commanded, “Close off the entire Heavens. No one is allowed in or out. And arrest anyone affiliated with the Southern Desert Tribe and take them in for questioning.”

The men protecting them shuffled to part to the sides. With purposeful strides, Ye Hua walked toward the spot where their son had disappeared with the Second Prince of the Southern Desert Tribe, just right about when the suicidal maniac exploded. The resultant wave of force that followed afterwards had left nothing unturned— be it an unprepared guest or table. Ye Hua barely had time to stabilize himself and his wife with magick enough to remain standing after the wave passed through. The force also caused some of the occupants of the hall to spit up blood.

The air still hung with fragments of burning ashes, red and black indicative of the powerful magick that had swelled from the Desert Prince before he exploded. Some burnt pieces of cloth, of white silk, like the fabric that A-Li had worn to the party floated and landed with the heap of ashes on the floor. If he hadn't seen it with his own eyes, Ye Hua wouldn't have believed how his son aimed to contain the explosion, like the other High Gods, then moved to drain the beginnings of the inferno into thin air before disappearing before their very eyes, taking the exploding man with him.

“Nobody could have survived that explosion.” The Eastern Sea King remarked, wiping the blood from his lips with his sleeve before immediately getting on his knees to bow and declare, “The First Prince has saved us all!”

From the periphery of his hearing and vision, Yes Hua saw the members of the Southern Desert Tribe object at being manhandled while they shouted for mercy.

“I am a loyal supporter of His Majesty!” cried Shen Fen, King of the Southern Desert Tribe, amid the din. “Bixià, have mercy on us!”

But the cacophony of noise fell on Ye Hua’s deaf ears.

These immortals that now sought his mercy and praised his son’s heroic deed? He was certain most of them were the same ones who had laughed and said hurtful words questioning his son’s lineage in the past. Did it matter that they were alive when his son was now gone?

How it all came to a head like this, how bold it was for somebody from the Chúnxùe to try to assassinate him in his home, Ye Hua needed more time to understand. Right now, he needed to know if his son was alright.

Then something truly unexpected happened.

Ye Hua felt his brother transform.

This was not lost to the entire gathering too.

Shouts and murmurs filled the hall.

The God of War has released his beast form!

What could it mean, why did he transform?

Is there really danger afoot?

All these questions and more added to the noise and worry inside the hall.

To no surprise, Zhe Yan disappeared after giving Ye Hua an imperceptible nod. His brother may have been nothing short of a recluse but Ye Hua had always been thankful that Mo Yuan had friends who were personally invested in his welfare. Meanwhile, Dong Hua stayed behind and inspected the remnants, his facial expression not betraying any emotion. Ye Hua tried very hard to contain his own emotions himself, especially when his fingers caught a burnt piece of A-Li’s clothing. The fabric felt warm in the palm of his hand before he clenched it inside his fist.

Somebody would have to pay.

Then the ground beneath them cracked and heaved. An explosion sounded off from the direction of the West. Ye Hua balanced himself to remain on his feet, his eyes now roaming toward his grandfather who looked like he had just been given the best birthday present. And the former Tianjuan had, because for what would be the Thirty-Six Heaven’s discomfort for years to come, the Punishment Platform was alive again, which was more than enough to keep his grandfather occupied for the next thousand of years or so.

The strange and clean scent of ether filled the air before another wave of shouting ensued.

The First Prince!

Make way! Give him room!

“A-Li!” Bai Qian shouted, her small hands pushing against Ye Hua so she could run to the back of the crowd where a growing circle had formed.

Ye Hua’s ears thundered with blood as he rushed after his wife. By the time the crowd had parted, he saw his wife taking off her outer robe to wrap around their eldest son whose clothes were in burnt tatters and holes.

Relief like warm water soothed Ye Hua’s chest, seeing his son safe and alive. His other children crowded over their oldest brother but A-Li’s eyes remained fixed on his.

“A-Li,” he choked out, his voice unavoidably becoming a window to his soul.

“Fùqīn (父亲), I—” A-Li began but stopped, keeling forward and coughing all of a sudden. The pearl white floor in front of A-Li got painted with copious amounts of blood.

“A-Li!” Bai Qian barely had her arms around their son when at the end of his coughing fit, A-Li lost consciousness. She leaned A-Li’s weight against her side and with her left hand cupped A-Li’s jaw, shaking him. “A-Li, wake up. Wake up, please.”

A-Li’s siblings did the same as their mother, trying to nudge their brother back to consciousness. Ye Hua remained frozen where he stood, unwilling to accept that his son may be back but was once again in danger.

Somebody shouted for the Medicine King but everything that happened afterwards drowned out for Ye Hua as the trauma of when A-Li was two hundred years old replayed itself in his mind.

At the time his boy had been reported missing by the palace attendants and no one, nobody, could find him for several hours. The heavens were placed on lockdown until a gardener found A-Li in his tiny beast form right under some shrubs. His child, who was born in human form, was severely weakened and had been reduced to his beast state to help recover. Nobody could explain where the child had been or what could have transpired, only that his son was rendered unconscious for several days afterwards.

It was the first time that Ye Hua felt a different but gripping sense of helplessness that not even Susu’s death 200 years past had been able to cause in him. She was the love of his life, but A-Li was his very own flesh and blood, his heart walking outside of his very chest.

And though like fingers of the same hand he loved all of his children, his eldest would always be the most special.

But the Celestial Throne should always triumph.

There were too many eyes watching, some of them with malice. Telling himself that at this point there was nothing else he could do, Ye Hua forbade his worry and fears for his child to show on his face, and with the coldness he had been known for, turned his back to his family and commanded the attendants to, “Bring the First Prince to Ziqing Palace. Make sure the Medicine King is waiting for him there.”

Channeling his anger to his feet instead, he whipped around and faced the congregation of Kings and Princes.

“The realms must be protected at all times,” he declared, his eyes roving and resting on as many rulers as he could. “We will get to the bottom of this, and anybody we find guilty and associated with the Chùnxué will be put to death without mercy.”

And there it was, the fear in these Royals’ eyes. For what was he thousands of years ago but the annihilator of an entire seditious clan?

Murderer, in the eyes of some.

Champion, in the eyes of others.

But as known only to one, his beloved Uncle, all the blood he spilled at the time was all for the cause of the One he loved.

And now that that love has multiplied?

Over the crowd he saw Lian Song’s knowing eyes. And he knew the Old Dragon knew just how far he could go for the ones he loved.


It was not hard to spot her Father, Mei Lin mulled as she followed the trail of immortals daring enough to extricate themselves from the rest of the gathering so as to flock before the God of War. She couldn't blame their excitement because her Father rarely showed himself in public, preferring Kunlun or tailing after her Mother as Mei Lin got older.

She shrugged and smiled to herself, because having her Father here only meant that her Mother had to be somewhere nearby. Mei Lin scanned the crowd and when she found her Mother absent, she proceeded to walk past.


Her Father hadn’t called her that in thousands of years, and it was effective in making her feet stop moving before her mind could tell them no.

Don't turn, she willed herself fearing she might tear up if she did. She tried to conjure the negative emotion she had felt for him the last time she had seen him… and failed. All that time spent in Huicūn, all the prayers she had sent his way through smoke, had only increased her desire to believe in her Father once again.

“Lin’er,” a hand touched her shoulder and turned her around. Mei Lin was drawn into her Father’s embrace before she had the chance to resist.

And damn if it didn’t feel good. It evoked pleasant memories— of her Father carrying her in his arms when she was younger, putting her on his lap to read to her, or holding her hand while they watched cranes bathe in Kunlun’s pools.

Mei Lin opened her eyes and saw tens of immortals looking at them with admiration and confusion in their eyes. She stiffened, suddenly conscious of how they must look like. It was a well-known fact that the God of War was a thoroughly unemotional man —which was why it had shocked the Celestials when he took the fiery and feisty Demon Ancestor for a wife.

He detached, pulled back and cupped her face in his hands.

“You feel different. Stronger. Stable.”

Mei Lin’s eyes searched her Father’s face, for the first time noticing the lines and creases she had chosen to ignore all these years.

“Where is Māma?” She chose to say instead of answering his implied question. “I need her.”

“She went to the Lotus Gardens. I can accompany you there.”

“No need.” She stepped back so his hands hung slack of weight and fell to his sides. “Attend to your guests while I go look for Māma.”

Mei Lin bowed to their esteemed spectators and rushed away but it didn't take her long to notice that her Father followed closely behind her. Several glances showed her Father walking at a leisurely pace, his blue robes playing colors between light and dark where it was hit by light, his hands behind his back.

Bàba, stop following me,” she huffed, picking up her pace, her ears probably aflame now that she realized her mistake.

“You haven't called me that in so many years.”

Mei Lin’s cheeks began to feel hot too. “Maybe because I thought you didn't deserve it.”

He was quiet for some time so that Mei Lin risked another glance, only to find her Father still staring at her as he walked, a small smile drawn on his face.

“How have you been, Lin’er? Where did you go to since we have last seen one another?”

She walked fast but with grace only known to her Father, he walked faster until they were apace.

“We haven’t seen one another for hundreds of years before, I don't see why you are so concerned as to where I have been the past few days.”

“I am always concerned with whatever happens to you, your mother and your brother.”

“You mean you have us followed all the time,” she corrected, eager to refute the tenderness she felt at his confession. “And since you weren't able to have me followed this time, you feel concerned.”

He was quiet again but Mei Lin hated how he looked at her with hopeful eyes every time he caught her looking.

Soon they arrived at the Lotus Gardens, and there was still no Shao Wan in sight.

“She’s not here. Could she have gone to the party?”

Mo Yuan stepped forward and bent a little to touch a nearby bench.

“She was here. And you and I both know your Mother would rather be skinned alive than to attend any Celestial party alone. She was here—” He straightened and looked toward all directions. “but she went somewhere else. Why?”

There was one other thing her Father was really good at other than being God of War; and that was being a husband. As Mei Lin followed her Father across the garden while he searched for his wife, she remembered all the times she had observed similar scenes that showed the depth of his love and care for her Mother. Demons were known for their wilful nature, and as Demon Overlord, her Mother exemplified the claim. So while it was unclear to her how the pinnacle of Celestial-ness ended up with the ruler of Demons, she had never, not once in her life, doubted that her Father truly loved her Mother.

Him being a good Father on the other hand...

Soon, the pink and golden skies gave way to dark and gray. Mei Lin looked around for landmarks and it didn’t take long to dawn on her that they now approached the entrance to Zhuxian Terrace. She wanted to call out to her Father and ask what her Mother could possibly be doing at this forbidden place. There had been countless stories told to her as a child, the kind nightmares were made of, and it was effective in ensuring that even at her naughtiest, she had never dared venture close to the place.

A fog crept through the premises, covering the golden floors with low-lying clouds that swirled as they walked. Mei Lin picked up her pace so she could come closer to her Father, wishing they could leave this eerie place soon.

She stepped on something soft which caused her to almost lose her balance then gasped when she identified it as the chest of an unconscious Celestial soldier.

Her Father cast magick that caused the fog to slink to the sides, which revealed not one but ten Celestial soldiers.

“Shao Wan!” Mo Yuan gasped and without looking back at her, ran up toward the cliff.

Mei Lin could only run after her Father. What was happening? Where was her Mother? Why had she rendered the Celestials, who were guarding the Ninth Heaven’s entrance to Zhuxian Terrace, unconscious?

It was an uphill climb and the road eventually got narrower until in the distance she could see her Mother's form standing near the tapered edge.

So what Lian Song had told them many years ago was true after all. Zhu Xian Terrace was not a hole in the ground. It was a vast abyss at the edge of the Sky Realms where dark clouds and bright lightning converged and warred, where the wind silenced and howled, and where the Veil separating the created from the uncreated did not exist. Every now and then, a macabre sight — a part of one of the crumbled Pillars that had used to support the created worlds— would bob through the clouds as it floated from the edges of Hùndùn and back. Mei Lin tried not to bodily tremble at the awful sight even though her knees had begun to shake.

“Shao Wan!” Her Father shouted, one arm outstretched as if he could grab her Mother despite the distance in between that they still had to cover. “Shao Wan, don't move! I am coming to get you!”

“Mo Yuan! Lin’er!” Shao Wan turned, her hair whipping in all directions from behind her, like a ghostly figure in a sea of haze. “Tell me you hear that too!”

“Hear what, Māma?” Mei Lin shouted back, her run slowing down to more careful steps because the ground underfoot has become uneven.

Suddenly, they were hit with a rogue wave of force, knocking them all off their feet.

“Shao Wan!” Mo Yuan frantically got back up as soon as he could. To Mei Lin’s relief, her Mother looked shaken but was still there, albeit Shao Wan had moved even closer to the edge.

Lights that glimmered like fireflies flew in her vision, and Mei Lin shook her head against the pain. “Li-Gē,” she moaned, feeling sick then spitting out blood, similar to that time during training when her cousin had received the full force of her wrath along with Gun Gun’s and had disappeared for a short spell of time.

But none of that. There was a bigger and clearer threat in front of her right now. Her Mother stood precariously close to the edge of the Terrace and her Father was doing his best to make her mother take a step backwards toward them… and failing.

“Mo Yuan, can't you hear that? My Mother is calling out to me!”

“Māma!” She shouted, clutching at her Father’s right sleeve. They couldn't come any closer now as the tip her Mother was standing on only had room for one. “Māma, I want to hear all about your Mother. Can you come over and tell me your stories about her?”

Shao Wan’s chin trembled and she looked back several times. Mo Yuan reached out his arm as far as he could so she would have something to hold on to.

“That’s it, my love. Come,” he encouraged to which Mei Lin nodded, still taking in the mixed look of confusion and innocence on her Mother’s face. “We will find out what happened to your Mother like I promised you I will. You know I always keep my word, right?”

Shao Wan hesitated, looking backward as if an invisible entity existed behind her before taking a small step back towards them. Mei Lin held her breath as she watched her Mother move toward her Father, offering an encouraging smile whenever she looked at her.

But just as her Father was about to make a grab for her Mother’s hand, the ground underneath them heaved and groaned. Mei Lin lost her balance, holding on to her Father to keep herself from falling, while he wrapped an arm around her waist as they knelt themselves to the ground.

Her Mother had also done the same, her eyes finally clear and bright.

“Lin’er, hold on to your Father!”

Mei Lin furiously nodded, moving with her Father as they crawled toward her Mother.

A shrill disembodied screech filled the air followed by a thunderous growl. The ground tremors increased in intensity, making moving harder. The mist from the Terrace grew heavier and the damp climbed almost to Mei Lin’s eye level. Lightning filled the Terrace’s clouds and air with a burning smell.

Mei Lin felt her Father attempt to crawl even faster, saying her Mother’s name over and over again.

And then it was too late.

The ledge Shao Wan was kneeling on cracked. In what would forever be burned in Mei Lin’s memory, she saw her Mother fall. What used to be wilful eyes now looked fearful, and her Father’s name was the last Mei Lin heard from her Mother’s lips.

With a deafening roar, her Father, Mo Yuan, broke Celestial rules by instantaneously transforming into his beast form and jumped in after his wife.

Mei Lin sobbed as she crawled toward the edge, her heart tight inside her chest. Her eyes searched the dark clouds below for any trace of her parents.

Her Mother should have transformed by now. And just in case she couldn't, her Father had enough cultivation to bring her Mother back. Her parents would make it out alive.

The ground continued to move in increasing intensity under her hands and knees. In the dark empty space before her, the wind continued to howl and scream accompanied by vicious thunder and lightning as it would in the worst of mortal typhoons.

Mei Lin’s body gave way to increasing sobs, in her mind the only litany being, I still need my parents. I cannot be an orphan yet.


Mei Lin looked behind her to see Zhe Yan doing his best to get to where she was.

“What happened? We all felt your Father transform.”

“B-Bàba,” she choked then sobbed with gasping breaths like a child, pointing to the emptiness below. “Bàba jumped in to rescue Māma.”

“Meimei? What was she thinking?” Zhe Yan shook his head and for the first time in her life, Mei Lin saw the Old Phoenix transform.

Zhe Yan’s beast form was as big as her parents. His feathers bristled with blue fire which toward the edges were tinged with purple. Black talons big enough to grasp even her Father’s dragon neck floated so close to her face that for a moment she forgot she was crying and wanted to reach out and touch it.

“Wait here,” he said. And maybe it was because he had flames for eyes but Mei Lin felt strangely comforted as she looked up at him. “I will try to find them.”

With a cry, the Phoenix flew down toward the ominous clouds, its bright feathers disappearing in the sea of black.

Chapter 69

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