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
Part 2 of 4! Still working on the next two parts so those may come a bit later, possibly at the end of the month. We’re slowly building up to Ye Hua’s meeting with Su Su.
Ye Hua’s teacher, Cihang Zhenren, had always been known as the Great Compassionate and Merciful Guan Shi Yin (大慈大悲救苦救難觀世音 // Buddhist Bodhisattva Guan Yin). Feeling immense guilt and thinking he was the one causing this tender-aged child to become so withdrawn, Cihang Zhenren went before Tianjun’s throne to tactfully praise Ye Hua for building a good foundation of Buddhism and Daosim and comment that Ye Hua could afford to leave his study and to learn immortal magic.
During those formative years, Ye Hua had spent single every day studying. Though in the first several years, his youth led him feeling powerless against Cihang Zhenren’s strict teachings, once this difficult time passed, the more interested he became in the subject. He soon built a deep knowledge of Buddhism and Daoism. But ultimately, this was just academic knowledge. He still hadn’t experienced the real world.
Tianjun asked Yuanshi Tianzun (元始天尊 // Celestial Venerable of the Primordial Beginning)1 of the Da Luo Heavens to take on Ye Hua as his final disciple (關門弟子 // Guan Men Di Zi).2 Yuanshi Tianzun was the head of The Three Pure Ones (三清 // San Qing)3 in the Heavenly Realm. Yuanshi Tianzun had only ever taken on Lingbao Tianzun as a disciple and was very strict when it came to accepting disciples. Even Tianjun was uncertain whether or not Yuanshi Tianzun would look favorably upon Ye Hua.
One day, Cihang Zhenren brought Ye Hua to pay respects to Yuanshi Tianzun. Tianzun took a look at him and without so much as a struggle, accepted Ye Hua as a disciple. Though Ye Hua was still a mere child, he was a gifted one at that.
Since Yuanshi Tuanzun was teaching Ye Hua immortal magic, Su Jin naturally could not continue tagging along. Escaping her watchful eye finally allowed Ye Hua’s spirits to lift.
Normally, when other children feel happiness, they jump for joy.
However, Ye Hua had already developed a steady and calm personality. He could hardly remember which parts of his face to move in order to smile. As such, his expression of happiness was a quiet kind of feeling that lived in the confines of his heart. Being able to follow along with Yuanshi Tianzun’s teachings with just the two of them present left Ye Hua feeling liberated. His interest in the subject increased and he progressed rapidly in his studies. At that, Yuanshi Tianzun would simply stroke his beard and smile.
Slowly, Ye Hua grew from a child to an adult. He began hearing more and more immortals discreetly whispering on about him. They said he had bore a close resemblance to that God of War, High God Mo Yuan, who had gone missing after the Ghost Uprising.
Even Tianjun once took a close study of Ye Hua’s face and sighed, “Back in his youth, Mo Yuan’s face looked just like yours. Though he died thirty thousand years ago, he was no ordinary immortal. While death for ordinary immortals means the end of life itself, perhaps Mo Yuan was able to preserve a piece of his soul, returning to be born from your mother’s womb after twenty thousand years.”
Tianjun’s words suggesting that Ye Hua could be Mo Yuan’s reincarnation left him feeling both a sense of surprise and absurdity.
The surprise was, in the official records, Mo Yuan was recorded as having gone into seclusion his disciple after the Ghost Uprising. But now he knew there was no such seclusion, as the valiant god had actually died in battle.
The absurdity was, immortals aren’t recorded in Si Ming’s Book of Destiny, so how in the world could something like reincarnation come about?
In truth, very few thought that Ye Hua was Mo Yuan’s reincarnation. The concept of immortal reincarnation has always gone against the fundamentals of the Three Realms and Five Elements. But in the Heavenly Realm, there was no lack of older immortals that loved to compare him to Mo Yuan. Up until then, he suffered little in life other than during that period of time early in his studies; in the arrogance of his youth, he couldn’t stand being compared negatively against Mo Yuan behind his back. So he worked even harder while studying under his two masters, Cihang Zhenren and Yuanshi Tianzun.
When Ye Hua was nearing twenty thousand years old, Xitian Fanjing held a lecture. Ye Hua tagged along with Cihang Zhenren. For three days, Ye Hua discussed Daoist and Buddhist philosophy with the Buddha of Healing and Medicine (藥師琉璃光王佛 // Bhaiṣajyaguru)4 as well as the Buddha of the Past, Present, and Future. Afterwards, he received high compliments and rose to fame for some time.
Tianjun happily praised, “Back in the day, Sang Ji was considered rather intelligent, but he was never like you. So this time, I must give you a nice reward. What would you like?”
For a long time, something had been left unsettled in Ye Hua’s heart. He lowered his head and said, “This grandchild wants to see his mother.”
Tianjun’s expression paled and he replied coldly, “Doting mothers are no good for children. If you are to inherit my throne, your mother naturally could not rear you into someone worthy of respect. She would turn your personality weak and indecisive. Not letting you see her is for your own good.”
Ye Hua glanced up at his grandfather, then lowered his head again, “This grandchild just wants to see his mother once.”
Tianjun replied angrily, “If you want my permission to see her, you need to ascend to high immortal by twenty thousand years old.”
Tianjun was being difficult. In the Four Seas and Eight Wildernesses, there’s never been an immortal that has been able to ascend to high immortal at twenty thousand years. even the esteemed High God Mo Yuan took until twenty-five thousand years old to ascend. After him, it was another one-hundred thousand years before Sang Ji came about, who then ascended at at thirty thousand years old.
Back then, Ye Hua was merely three or four years from reaching twenty thousand. But when Yuanshi Tianzun heard of Tianjun’s deal with Ye Hua, he merely smiled meaningfully.
Ye Hua’s father urged, “Your mother is doing very well, no need to be concerned. Tianjun favors you, so all you need to do is go along with his wishes. Why make him unhappy by defying him?”
Something changed within Ye Hua after hearing these words. He didn’t understand how he came to have such a cowardly father.
It wasn’t too disheartening, however.
Tianjun’s design for Ye Hua’s upbringing intended to cut off the roots of his emotions. Teaching him to be sober and calm would make him a balanced individual. Life at the top is cold and lonely, so only in this way could Ye Hua learn to withstand and enjoy the taste of being tianjun.
Ye Hua wanted to see his mother, but not because he longed for the affection she gave him as a child. Those events were too long ago. He could hardly remember them, let alone remember her face. After all, he was only nine back then.
He only thought, he was not a motherless child, so he should at least know what his own mother looked like.
Ye Hua’s father stopped sending Su Jin to his side every day. These twenty thousand years, Ye Hua had only regarded the Zhao Ren Princess as a brush stand on his desk. He didn’t think much else of her, so it didn’t make a difference to him whether or not she continued to stand by his desk.
He assumed that Su Jin probably got tired of doing this for twenty thousand years, too. Now, everyone could finally be set free.
The unexpected thing was, Su Jin continued to stay by his side. When Ye Hua went to Yuanshi Tianzun’s quarters, Su Jin waited outside. However, he was busy training for ascension, so he didn’t give much thought to this matter.
The day before Ye Hua’s birthday, Su Jin searched all throughout the Nine Heavens, looking for him with no avail. Suddenly, thunder shook the 36 Levels of Heaven.5 Lightning cut through the clouds, striking towards the lower realms and all the way down to the Eastern Wilderness. Destroying everything in its way, each strike turned rocks and trees into ashes. Any immortal could tell that this is no ordinary storm; this divine lightning was for an ascension trial.
In Ling Xiao Palace, Tianjun’s expression paled. Once lightning strikes, there’s no escaping. Surviving the trial would bring one’s spirit in balance with the universe; otherwise, the result would be guaranteed death.
Tianjun stood at Heaven’s Southern Gate with his subjects, face blanched.
Two cups worth of tea later, Ye Hua returned covered in blood. He’d fallen upon an obscure bundle of soft cloud before slowly making his way back.
Upon seeing Tianjun at the Southern Gate, Ye Hua stumbled down from the cloud using the last bits of his energy. He staggered over to Tianjun and fell to his knees. Despite the thin trails of blood stains on the corners of his eyes and mouth, Ye Hua was the picture of calmness. With a cold voice and in an obedient manner, he said, “Tianjun promised, should I ascend to high immortal by twenty thousand years old, you’d allow me to see my mother. Today, I’ve ascended. May this grandchild know when he can see his mother?”
With a conflicted expression, Tianjun finally conceded, “Nurse your bodily injuries before going, lest you cause worry to your mother.”
To ascend to high immortal by twenty thousand years old was truly an unprecedented achievement. Ye Hua accomplishment shook the Four Seas and Eight Wildernesses. Ever since, no immortal dared to compare him to Mo Yuan again.
Only his master, Yuanshi Tianzun, when replying to a question from Lingbao Tianzun, said vaguely, “Perhaps, those who look like that are just naturally born with immortal prestige. Mo Yuan had this quality and Ye Hua does, too.”
Most people only marveled over Ye Hua’s ascent to high immortal at such a tender age, few were concerned of the injuries he sustained. The lesions from three strikes of Holy Lightning Bolts are naturally nothing like average injuries. When he stumbled down from the cloud to greet Tianjun that day, Ye Hua had been using the last of his strength.
After that day, he spent his time in Ling Yue Palace, lying at rest to nurse his injuries.
The Zhao Ren Princess, who he never paid much attention to over the twenty thousand years they spent in the same vicinity, stayed by his sickbed every day. She poured him tea and served him medicine; she helped him move about; she even assisted him as he ate and drank.
Ye Hua assumed it was Tianjun’s decree to have her come and care for him, so he did not think much of it.
Just like this, three to four years came and went.
One day, he overheard two gossiping maids. They said the Zhao Ren Princess was infatuated with him; when he sustained his injuries, the Princess shed endless tears for him.
By then, Ye Hua had grown into a handsome young man. In terms of skill, there were few others on the road to ascension that could surpass him. And though he carried a subdued look, he possessed the prestige and presence of a future monarch. It was not just the Zhao Ren Princess, but many young maidens in the Heavenly Clan that secretly pined after him.
At the will of Tianjun, Ye Hua had spent the entirety of his twenty thousand years of life studying. He never even had the spare time to think about things like romance. So once he heard that someone pined for him, his heart was met with sudden shock. Further, hearing that the one pining for him was the Zhao Ren Princess left him not only surprised, but also in disbelief.
Su Jin, the Zhao Ren Princess, was granted her title by the old Tianjun. She’s this generation’s Tianjun’s younger sister in name. His father should be calling her gu-gu (姑姑 // Aunt),6 which meant Ye Hua should be referring to her as gu nai-nai (姑奶奶 // Great-Aunt). A gu nai-nai with feelings for her grandson? Even though they had no blood relations, this seemed rather absurd.
Ye Hua’s personality was an indifferent one; he never voluntarily sought out unnecessary trouble. Since Su Jin kept her feelings hidden, Ye Hua would thus pretend he knew nothing. However, in regards to Su Jin’s diligent caretaking, he began declining her whenever he could.
But a woman’s feelings are, of course, more acute to these types of things.
After three or four instances of rejection, a paled Su Jin came to him and asked, “So you already know?”
He really did not want to have this conversation with her. Though Ye Hua knew little about romance, he knew that certain things were better left buried in the dirt instead of exposed in broad daylight.
Ye Hua shook his head silently and reached for his tea.
Su Jin grabbed his sleeve with trembling hands and said, “I know you know everything. Since you know it all, why do you act like this?”
He replied coldly, “What is it that I’m supposed to know?”
Her pale face flushed slightly and her hands trembled even more. At length, she said softly, “I…I…I like you.”
Su Jin’s confession was naturally left unrequited.
His next words hurt her deeply. Ye Hua replied, “But I’ve always regarded you as my gu nai-nai. I respect you the same way I respect my grandfather.”
The corner of her eyes teared up as she said, “You…You are bothered that I’m older than you by twenty thousand years? But…but that main consort you are set to marry, High Goddess Bai Qian of Qing Qiu, is older than you by an entire ninety thousand years.”
Since childhood, Ye Hua has been treated as the next generation’s Tianjun. Despite the hardships he suffered in his studies, other than Tianjun, his two teachers, and his father, no one ever dared to speak to him with such disrespect. With a twinge of anger, he merely replied, “If you have the will, be like Bai Qian and find a way to leave me no choice but to marry you.”
Many years later, he often reflected on the words he said to Su Jin. Because of those careless words, he paid a price worse than death later on in his life.
- Yuanshi Tianzun: One of the most venerable dieties in Daoism, said to have come into being at the beginning of creation from the merging of pure breaths.
- Guan Men Di Zi: The last disciple of a given master, literally means “disciple that closes the gate.” Often the favored disciple and holds a special position.
- San Qing: Refers to The Three Divine teachers in Daoism.
- Bhaiṣajyaguru: “Medicine King,” “Medicine Buddha,” or “Medicine Master and King of Lapis Lazuli Light,” a supreme healer worshipped predominantly in East and Central Asia.
- 三十六天 // 36 Heavens: Daoism divides its heavens into 36 levels, which are further grouped according to various realms. Each level of heaven is occupied by a different ruler. The 36th level, Da Luo, is the highest and the where the Yuanshi Tianzun and the universe originally manifested.
- Supplementary Info: Chinese culture is very specific when defining one’s family members. Patrilineality is heavily emphasized and there are specific titles depending on generation, relative age, gender, and paternal vs maternal lineage. Specifically, gu-gu is any aunt on the father’s side of the family.