Part of a Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms translation project at fruitydeer.com.
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Source: 三生三世十里桃花 by Tang Qi Gong Zi // Translated By: fruitydeer
A lovely epilogue that dives into Ye Hua’s childhood and touches on his side of the Peach Blossoms story. It turned out to be quite long so I’ve divided the original two parts from the book into four parts total. This is part 1 of 4.
The book references two levels of ascension that immortals can achieve through cultivation, shang xian (上仙) and shang shen (上神). The first is commonly achieved around 50,000-70,000 years and the latter at around 140,000 years, each level needing a divine trial to reach.
I’ll refer to shang xian as high immortal and shang shen as high god/goddess. xiao xian (小仙) or lower dieties will simply be referred to as immortals.
That year, the lotuses of the jade pool shined brilliantly.
Without any abandon, the woman he loved so fervently jumped into Zhu Xian Terrace, the barrier of Nine Heavens,1 right in front of his eyes.
When Ye Hua was born, his mother suffered a difficult delivery. She was in pain for a full seven days. No other child in the heavens had given this much of a struggle.
However, when he finally came into the world with a cry, a golden light shined through the skies for 36 days. Seventy-two rainbow birds flew from Mount Junji of the Eastern Wilderness (東晃 // Dong Huang) and rushed to his mother’s chambers, dancing around it for 81 days.
The last time an incident like this occurred was when Ye Hua’s second uncle, Sang Ji, was born. But even then, only a mere 36 rainbow birds danced around the empress’ chambers.
Tianjun (天君 // Heavenly Lord) cried tears of joy, bowing towards the eastern skies before his ministers at Ling Xiao Palace and announcing, “Such an immeasurable virtue. The Heavenly Clan is finally welcoming another crown prince.”
So many years after Sang Ji’s banishment, there was at last another destined crown prince.
A destined crown prince must live by Tianjun’s will. He can never and shall never fail to meet the expectations of Tianjun…
During those times, peace existed through the lands and the immortals of Heaven lived their days carefree and unfettered.
At nine years old, Ye Hua would peek past the gates of his father’s Ling Yue Palace and look down to see other young immortals, each with their hair tied into two round little buns, playing hide-and-seek or catching crickets. he was envious of them.
Children are playful by nature, yet he was never able to play with anyone else.
Instead, Tianjun sought out Lingbao Tianzun’s (靈寶天尊 // Heavenly Lord of Spiritual Treasures)2 disciple, Cihang Zhenren (慈航真人 // Compassionate Travel True-Person)3—the only true master of both Buddhism and Daoism in the world—to teach Ye Hua. So every day, he sat in the rather large jade-inlaid golden seat of the study for 14 hours straight until thousands of homes lit their lamps for the night.4
At his age, he should have been indulged and treated with tender affection. Ye Hua’s several uncles were raised like such. Even his father never had to suffer like this.
He was so young—other gods of his age, even those a few years older than him, lived their days with an easy happiness. But Ye Hua could only spend his days in the study, sitting across from the stern Cihang Zhenren along with tall stacks of classical scripture.
Only his mother took pity on him, visiting him and making some sweet soup for him to drink from time to time. He was just nine years old at the time and could barely even walk steadily, let alone comprehend those difficult Buddhist and Daoist scriptures. He once shed a tear in front of his mother and she couldn’t take it, running straight to Tianjun to beg for mercy. Tianjun fumed, and until Ye Hua ascended to divinity at 20,000 years old, he never once saw his mother again.
Once, Xitian Fanjing (西天梵境 // Brahma)5 held a lecture and Cihang Zhenren rushed to attend. Ye Hua was left with no one to tend over his studies. Ye Hua snuck out with the two little Immortals assigned to look over Taishang Laojun’s (太上老君 // The Grand Pure One)6 divine beasts. After just a moment of playing with the beasts, he was caught by his father and given a beating by the stick.
Ye Hua’s father admonished, “How can you lack such motivation? One day you’ll take the seat of Tianjun. You’re incomparable to the average person. When your uncle, Sang Ji, was born, only 36 rainbow birds came about. Yet he was still able to ascend to high immortal at 30,000 years old.
“Think about it, 72 rainbow birds came to celebrate your birth. If you can’t ascend by 30,000 years old, how can you be worthy of the grace bestowed upon you by those 72 birds who flew from thousands of miles away to celebrate?”
His father’s true reasoning behind this strictness was actually for nothing more than a petty thought of his—he wanted his son to surpass Sang Ji. But Ye Hua was young, so his father used this more logical and sound excuse instead. In his youthful naïveté, Ye Hua thought nothing of this beyond how wronged he felt.
After this, Ye Hua’s father brought over a little maid called Su Jin. His father said she was picked out to be his playmate. As young as he was, Ye Hua knew that someone like himself, who could never afford to take even a minute out of his Buddhist and Daoist studies, could clearly have no time to spend with a playmate. This person was clearly brought here to monitor him.
If it was any other maid, Ye Hua would naturally find a way for her to cry to the heavens for mercy. After all, as the future Tianjun, he easily could crush her soul to bits and pieces with a flick of the wrist. Tianjun favors him and would thus punish him lightly. After the punishment, he would go right back to being Tianjun’s grandson, Crown Prince of the Nine Heavens.
However, this Su Jin had quite a unique background.
There exists a small sub-clan within the heavens, a side branch of no more than 5,000 people. Due to their mastery in martial arts, all their men and women become heavenly soldiers or generals in a special unit that reported directly to Tianjun. Su Jin’s father was the head of this side branch. Twenty thousand years ago during the Ghost Clan Uprising, the previous Tianjun ordered an army of 100,000 to support Mo Yuan, the God of War, in his efforts to subdue the clan. Su Jin’s father and this special unit was among those 100,000 troops.
The war with the Ghost Clan ended tragically. The Second Ghost Prince’s consort stole the army’s battle plans and forced Mo Yuan to rush into battle. Among those plans had been a tactic to send a unit of soldiers out as bait. Mo Yuan aimed to use this diversion to weaken the Ghost Clan’s 70,000 troops.
Su Jin’s father immediately volunteered. He took the entirety of his sub-clan’s troops and sacrificed their lives so that Mo Yuan could fulfill his role as an unstoppable force in warfare.
After the Ghost Clan subsided, ninety thousand soldiers returned to the Nine Heavens. They brought back only a bloodstained will from Su Jin’s father. It had just a few words in it, covered with splotches of red blood and black ink. He asked Tianjun to take care of his infant daughter now orphaned at home. His hope was, although she was now the last surviving member of the sub-clan, to allow let her live fearlessly so she can bring back the glory of her people.
Touched, the old tianjun affirmed the honor of this sub-clan and wanted to return their goodwill somehow. Because Su Jin was the last remaining of her people, all this goodwill was directed towards her. In the year of Hao De 63,813, Su Jin was crowned the Zhao Ren (昭仁 // Illuminating and Benevolent) Princess. The old Tianjun tasked his newly married eldest grandson, that is, the eldest son of this generation’s Tianjun, Ye Hua’s father, to raise her.
She was only older than Ye Hua by twenty thousand years, but according to seniority, he should have been calling her gu nai-nai (姑奶奶 // Great-Aunt).
When Su Jin began watching over him by his desk, Ye Hua was a bit uneasy. After a while, however, he saw her as no different than the brushes, paper, or ink sitting on his desk. Ye Hua was always a quiet child, but her arrival left him even more subdued. By then, he was already a beautiful child, albeit one who talked very little. But at twenty thousand years old, Su Jin had the energetic spirit of an adolescent. When Cihang Zhenren tasked Ye Hua to rest, she would come and try to tease him into talking. He found it bothersome, crinkling his brows whenever Su Jin came to look for him.
Ever since then, this grew into a habit of often furrowing his brows.
- Nine Heavens: Here’s an interesting read on its significance and why it’s commonly featured in wuxia and xianxia literature.
- Lingbao Tianzun: One of The Three Pure One’s in Daoism
- Cihang Zhenren: Associated with compassion and travel, commonly identified with the Bodhisattva, Guan Yin. Said to be one of the 12 disciples of Yuanshi Tianzun.
- Supplementary Info: The text specifically mentions that Ye Hua studies until the hour of 戌時 // xu shi, which is around 7-9PM. This is an archaic timekeeping method. Each unit of time—時程 or shi cheng—is the equivalent of two modern hours. For example, half a 時程 or shi cheng in the text equals one modern hour. The hours of the day are also related to the Chinese Zodiac. 戌 // xu in xu shi, for instance references both the Year of the Dog and 9th Month of the Lunar Calendar in addition to 7-9PM, which is also called the Hour of the Dog.
- Brahma: A heavenly king of in buddhism, lord of the heavenly realm of rebirth. Although derived from Brahma in Hinduism, he is depicted differently in the Buddhist cosmology.
- Taishang Laojun: Also known as Daode Tianzun, one of the three Pure Ones in Taoism.